Renowned for its bold hairstyle choices and acute sense of fashion, the 80s became the golden age of synthesizers. By end of the decade, we said goodbye to dance-pop and welcomed a new era of alternative rock; In Britain that meant Madchester indie-rockers like The Charlatans (also known as The Charlatans U.K. in the United States). Since their formation in 1989, the band have released a series of successful albums which have landed them in UK charts; having suffered the deaths of keyboardist Rob Collins in 1996 and drummer Jon Brookes in 2013, their resilience and chemistry bring an undeniable sense of unity which radiates throughout their music.
Different Days is The Charlatans 13th studio album, and unlike some of their peers, it is easy to see how their creative consistency has failed to progress. Aside from the collaborative spoken vocals of fellow pals and musicians such as author Ian Rankin and Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, the band do little to stray from the sound of their 1990 debut Some Friendly. However, as faithful fans will know, with every Charlatans track it is stimulating to listen to and search for ways in which the recipe has been altered. With this album it’s all about the special guests, Tim Burgess, Mark Collins, Martin Blunt and Tony Rogers have brought in to offer their talents.
The introductory song “Hey Sunrise” is guided with pleasant acoustics giving an airy melancholy feel. The lyrics, “It’s beginning to look like it’s my sunrise” paint vivid images of looking out at the world and seeing a brand new day surface, feathering pulses aid with the daydreaming as they transmit a weightlessness, pulling listeners into a pleasurable trance like state. Although not a track to get up and dance to, the calming composition and effective synthesizer, enables you to sit and relax whilst soaking up the rays on a warm summers day.
Floating melodies are the essence of “Solutions”, with Tim Burgess’s soothing, raspy tones guiding the track. Though, maintaining constant hooks throughout, the song slowly becomes dry and tedious as I find myself willing the end to near soon. Similarly, “Over Again” displays a halt on the ingenuity front with hollow electronic tinges failing to provide the charismatic flair The Charlatans are well-known for.
“Not Forgotten” and “There Will Be Chances” implement profound riffs, resulting in effective, meaningful reflection. They combine to create the more electrifying tracks appearing on Different Days, vivacious vocals, discordant melody’s and nifty bass guitar talents blend to effectively provide curious and fun sounds. “Maybe the devil took your name, hung it round your neck on a chain”, providing a dark, more mysterious yet alluring side, the lyrics evoke a certain intensity within our souls, igniting that flare which was sorrowfully missed on previous tracks.
“Spinning Out” is a rather moderately sorrowful track to conclude a soul searching album. Paul Weller, former leader of The Jam, co-wrote the song and contributes backing vocals, percussion and keyboards; Gentle guitar riffs and engrossing vocals become thought provoking, allowing listeners to delve deeper into their minds. The sudden conclusion on a major key chord leaves the possibility of a fourteenth album open to the imagination, a rather imaginative way to end a gracefully written album.
Different Days produces a deep nostalgia but also brings with it the element of modern influences. The Charlatans have always been a symbol of individuality and uniqueness and they have most definitely delivered with this 13th installment. Whilst the lyrics are scarce in adventure, the unique exploration of the spoken vocal tracks are surprisingly enjoyable and are a refreshing change to the quite indistinguishable sounds of today’s music scene.