Hold back on your surprise, but The Charlatans are still up and going. A survivor of the 90s, as one of the ‘other’ Brit pop acts they have never commanded massive attention. Even the limited offering of this very album as a free download 2 months before its physical release, has failed to have the same impact as the likes of Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails.
Which in this case is actually a shame. Because, although crushingly middle of the road, with ‘You Cross My Path’, The Charlatans have carved out a really quite capturing release. True, there is a degree of flabby excess around the edges. The Elbow-meets- a-breakfast-cereal-commercial album opener ‘Oh! Vanity’ proves a prime example as it exploits a repetitive two chord rhythm to the point where it becomes slave drivingly a-melodic.
Putting this to one side though, there’s still more engaging material remaining on this album than Oasis have made in the past 5 years. The organ-driven, wants-to-be-a-Bond-theme of ‘A Day For Letting Go’ illustrates a passion in music that many bands going since 1989 would long have lost. ‘Bad Days’ perhaps shows this age a little more. Yet even as a clear take on New Order it’s remarkably fresh sounding.
As for the remainder The Charlatans rest success on the type of atmospheric edgy pop music made popular by the likes of Kasabian. ‘Missing Beats (Of A Generation)’ is the choice among these tracks for its quaking tambourine and driving bass line.
Whether cynical or curious as to the longevity of this act, ‘You Cross My Path’ more than proves that The Charlatans are still worth taking a note of. Now free of their Brit pop scene shackles, perhaps now more than anytime before The Charlatans are free to make a powerfully diverse record. Long let it continue.