One of Britain’s most celebrated bands, The Charlatans have forged a long and successful career, yet it is on this, their 12th studio album, that they truly deliver. Emerging from a much vaunted, yet often highly homogenous era of Britpop, Tim Burgess and co always seemed like a band that had more to offer, with varied levels of success through the years. Modern Nature justifies the faith in a somewhat cathartic manner.
Recorded in response to the tragic death of drummer Jon Brookes to brain cancer two years ago, it was the band’s intention to pay homage to their departed friend by creating a series of lighthearted, yet uplifting songs. While tracks like ‘So Oh’, ‘Come Home Baby’, and ‘Emilie’ delightfully enforce this objective, the unsurprisingly somber undertones of ‘Talking in Tones’ and the reflective lyrical content of ‘Let The Good Times Be Never Ending’ portray a band in mourning.
A known music fan, (recently taking up a guest presenting spot on BBC Radio 6) Burgess is never afraid to explore new territory and with Modern Nature he once again fails to disappoint. Whether it be the use of the gospel choir on ‘Come Home Baby’, the jazzy underscore of ‘Keep Enough’ or the tuneful bongo rhythm and understated double bass on ‘In The Tall Grass’, this is an album brimming with charm and personality. Although the record’s vibrancy does indeed fade towards the end as things begin to sound more ‘Charalatany’, for want of a better word, there is never any doubting either its honesty or accomplishment, which is a true testament to the band’s endeavour. A refreshing triumph.