Who would’ve thought The Charlatans (UK) would release some of their best music nearly 30 years after their debut record Some Friendly. When they first hit the scene, many thought they were just another Madchester band. Maybe they make a few albums, and sputter out? But that was never going to be the case with Tim Burgess and Co. They evolved, working through endless styles, still staying relevant.
Modern Nature is the 12th studio album by The Charlatans, released in January of 2015. I found it in the cut outs and remember hearing most of the record, but now I’m giving it the proper due deserved. What I realized after several listens is that this is a band still creating and moving forward with every new release.
“So Oh” is the first thing that grabs me, it’s like a breath of fresh air, while you’re lying on the beach, the ocean at your feet. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard the band this full of sunshine, but it’s stunning. So upbeat and positive, like they were reborn. And they were born again, several times, over the last thirty years.
“Feel free in the tall grass/Letting go of our past.”- Tim Burgess
The group has been dealt some heavy losses throughout their storied career, left with no choice but to let go of the past, as Burgess sings during “In The Tall Grass.” It’s moody and introspective. You actually feel like your wading through full-grown corns stalks or tall blades of grass. The Charlatans have always been great at creating moods, but here on Modern Nature, they are prolific.
“Come Home Baby” could be the finest song The Charlatans have written? It starts smooth, turning into a groove-oriented jam, eventually erupting in a big, beautiful chorus, that could fit on a Coldplay or an Oasis record.
I’ll be honest, “Let The Good Times Be Never Ending” was probably my least favorite song from this album because it sounds too much like their old stuff, and the rest of the record felt new. But nevertheless, they filmed a video for the track, maybe to entice older fans? The best part of the song is the 3-minute jam at the end, giving us something we can dance to.
Not that I ever doubted this crew, but ‘Nature seemed a tad uninspired at first listen. I was wrong, and after a few passes, I got the gist of what they were going for; exploration. A brave world opens up, and the band members allow the music to breathe. Keeping the instrumentation sparse, there’s a less is more approach this time. More subtleties, more nuances, more time with each track. The best example of this is the album opener “Talking In Tones.” Listen, and I think you’ll agree.
The maturity is obvious as there is nothing left to prove.
Clash called Modern Nature, “A significant step forward for the Britpop survivors.” I couldn’t have said it better.
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