The Charlatans

Different Days

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May 26, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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North American audiencesif they're old enoughmight respond hesitantly with "The Only One I Know" if the U.K.'s The Charlatans are brought up. That song from 1990 is arguably the group's high point on these shores. But on their native soil, The Charlatans are not only current and relevant but held in the highest esteem.

This is documented on The Charlatans' 13th album, Different Days, which with the passing of the group's drummer Jon Brookes in 2013, sees the top echelons of British music, as well as some clued up Americans, jumping in to lend a hand wherever needed. New Order's Stephen Morris reprises his duties from 2015's Modern Nature, the last album, with deft, contemporary programming and drumming on the majority of Different Days, including on the standout, percussion-driven "Solutions." Johnny Marr comes in on the playful "Plastic Machinery," the interlude-like "Future Tense," which has Ian Rankin speaking esoterically over it in his soothing Scottish tones, and the self-referential "Not Forgotten," leaving his distinct mark on every one.

Despite all the assistance, Different Dayswhose dismal cover is at odds with the hopeful yet melancholic songsis still quintessentially a Charlatans album. From the optimistic bursts of opener "Hey Sunrise" to the closing soother "Spinning Out," which features Paul Weller on a number of instruments as well as on backing vocals, the musicianship of the group continues to hit new heights. Tim Burgess, vocalist, focal point, and main reason behind any persisting interesting in The Charlatans isn't improving anywhere near the rate his band mates are, but that does little to take away from the enjoyableness of Different Days. (www.thecharlatans.net)

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