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Up At The Lake
Island Records

There are a few bands that continue to evolve after being together for more than a decade. Some (like Metallica) evolve into nothing more than a thin shadow of what they once were. The Charlatans, however, continue to expand their sound, revisit past experiences, and grow as songwriters and musicians. For a band that has lost a few members to various death experiences, it is a tremendous feat to even stay together, much less to be making as good, if not better, music than they were when they began.

Up At The Lake is filled with melodies and themes that seem the logical continuation more of the Tim Burgess solo record, than that of the last Charlatans release, Wonderland. Perhaps it is simply the fact that the band has moved away from the Curtis Mayfield soul into a more obscure late 60's sounding psychedelia… So, the record is more in line with their origins, only instead of making Madchester of the sound, the band relies on the folky side of the sound. I feel there is definitely Donovan-esque territory being covered on this record, but in a more contemporary, soulful style.

"Up At The Lake" kicks the album off with great guitar lines, full of the crisp, almost American sounds that the Charlatans have definitely utilized to define their style. There are also the trademark cascading vocal lines and precisely neat drumming that we, as fans, have come to rely on. "Feel The Pressure" revisits the outstanding sound of Wonderland, full of 70's soul and groovy background vocals, but pushing the envelope with strange instrumentation in the keyboards. A lot of interesting keyboard bits on this record, come to think of it. Tony Rogers is really finding a vast new territory to explore his playing. "Bona Fide Treasure" is a more folky sounding song, full of acoustic guitars and doo-doo-doo sing-songy background vocals. There is some good classic Charlatans riffing on "Blue For You", with its squawking guitars and heavy Hammond organs. And then back to a nice, mellow groove on "I'll Sing A Hymn (You Came to Me)", which is possibly the most laid-back that Tim Burgess has ever sounded.

There are just tons of treasures on this record, songs that I could listen to everyday for the rest of my life and never grow tired of - so different from previous Charlatans music, but also very immediately familiar.

This record, to me, feels like home.

Now if only we could get some ridiculous American record company to pick this album up and distribute it, we could get the word out to more people affordably. Until then, the faithful have a new record to rejoice in and rediscover their love for Tim Burgess and the boys in the band. Hopefully, we will continue to have these beautiful chances.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:

1. Up At The Lake
2. Feel The Pressure
3. As I Watch You In Disbelief
4. Cry Yourself To Sleep
5. Bona Fide Treasure
6. High Up Your Tree
7. Blue for You
8. I'll Sing A Hymn (you came to me)
9. Loving You Is Easy
10. Try Again Today
11. Apples And Oranges
12. Dead Love

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