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Wonderland - Charlatans

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5 Reviews

Genre: Rock - Pop Rock / Artist: Charlatans / Audio CD released 2003-08-25 at Universal / Island

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      22.07.2002 22:19
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      This is the seventh offering from the Charlies, a band who have withstood the test of time remarkably well, and sound as good today as they always have. This album did surprise me somewhat though. I was expecting a Charlatans album, and I got a Charlatans album, albeit with funny semi-falsetto vocals. It works though, and adds even more depth to songs such 'You're So Pretty - We're So Pretty' (you've heard that one on the advert) and 'If I Fall' one of those songs that makes you feel all fluttery in your tummy, and easily this year's summer song. Just like the album is set to be this year's summer album.

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        22.11.2001 19:28
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        In fact, when you think about it, this probably IS the the best album of the Charlatans' carreer. From the outset of 'You're So Pretty', you know that this is a change of direction for the Charlatans. But one that is vital. Like some music hack said recently, the Charlatans have joined Primal Scream in being an old band band but also compulsive and fresh at the same time. In fact, most of the album sounds like they jumped back in time to The Scream's songs between 'Screamadelica' and 'Give Out But Don't Give Up'. This is not, repeat NOT a bad thing. In fact it is magical at times. The standout track on offer is the mesmerising 'Ballad Of The Band', nearly six minutes of a journey through the dark side of life. 'Come with me...', Burgess drawls on the chorus while loping to a furious bass and cracking melody. It could well be the Charlatans' best song yet. The fantastic love song 'I Just Can't Get Over Losing You' is another highlight - a screeching (and astonishing) falsetto by Burgess sounds extremely endearing, especially set amongst the lush female backing vocals. Single 'Love Is The Key' may not have struck you at first but is the most lovely slow burning 'grower' you could hope to find. It soon becomes another high point. Then other songs like 'Right On', 'And If I Fall' and (especially) 'Is It In You?' later assualt your brain with lush melodies and innovative twists. In fact, the whole album innovates in some way. Gentle ballad 'A Man Needs To Be Told' is affecting and evocative of the Charlatans' new found soul. Yeah, a REAL soul album with no false gestures; the final melody of 'Love To You' leaves an extremely warm feeling from a surprisingly simple but effective album, lyrical wise. But the drum loops, samples and minimal keyboards make the music more articulate and evocative of the Charlat
        ans' true spirit. No sell out here. I loved 'The Charlatans', 'Tellin' Stories' and 'Us & Us Only', and anyone nervous about a change of direction should shove their doubts aside. This album is a love album...but this is a good thing. The charlatans have never been more vital, or closer to the fans they obviously love. Please, please, PLEASE give us more you Soul Saviours.

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        30.10.2001 07:13
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        Cutting edge, at the forefront of music reviews, ahead of the pack as ever, thought I’d finally write my review of the latest Charlatans offering, the ideas for which have been buzzing round my little brain for a couple of weeks now. And as I write I’m only 2 reviews too late on DooYoo and a mere 27 days behind indieboy. So in a spirit of fair play and me being such a nice chap please read both indieboy’s and kfingleton’s writings if you haven’t already done so- they’re both worth a look. Right, now I’m feeling all cuddly and warm from my generous spirit can I actually add anything to what’s already been written? Apart from what I consider to be a damned fine onomatta, er , onamatter, no onnymatty, oh sod it, catchy title. Well, possibly- a sort of yes and no. The trouble is when listening to this album certain words do spring automatically to mind and there’s no getting away from them. In the main, the first and fifth -yet more F-words!- of my damned fine onomatta, er... (okay you know the rest)... title. One final point- (yes I know- “For Chrissakes get to it!”) before we start. My skinflint copy of the album from CD-Wow only has 10 tracks and misses out the final two of the British release- but do not despair, at this very moment audiogalaxy is rushing valiantly to our rescue and should have finished downloading by the time I get to writing about track 10. Are these songs any good? Will they alter my overall rating? Fingernails are being gnawed, edge of seats sat on- God this is sooo exciting. So here it is at last- the bit about the music. First song- “You’re So Pretty- We’re So Pretty”. Why does that lyric ring a vague bell? Sure I’ve heard something very similar somewhere in the past- and that’s no bollocks. Never mind. Actually, it’s a bit of a chilling groovefest, a sort of gentle hip-swaying, head-nodder. Top start
        in fact. “Judas” is more of the same. Singer Tim Burgess’ move to America has obviously had a major effect on his work- but he’s taken the good aspects from that country and left the garbage (“Garbage?”) behind. Thus far, this is certainly worth my 30 pieces of silver (even with 2 songs short -bastards!). Actually, audiogalaxy update- one track safely downloaded, one on 58%- it’s looking good!!! (Are you starting to get damp with the anticipation yet? Me too.) You’ll probably know “Love Is The Key” by now. Hand-clapping, upbeat, sing-along. “I will sacrifice my soul to free you from misery.” This is really rather good so far. “A Man Needs To Be Told” has a simple drumbeat at it’s heart and simpler keyboards providing accompaniment, amid more high-pitched warbling. Probably my 2nd favourite song. Which leads to... ... my very favourite track. “I Just Can’t Get Over Losing You”- one of those songs that rolls and rolls and rolls. You don’t ever want it to stop. Seems to have about three choruses- a real mover. The guitar on what is the main chorusey bit is inspired- the whole song fantastic. Why isn’t it a single yet? Never liked instrumentals, never will. Always sound like fillers. So “The Bell And The Butterfly” doesn’t do a lot for me. It’s not bad- it’s just there. Rest of the album:- “And If I Fall”. Very much like “You’re So Pretty...” and “A Man Needs...” Again, great to chill to. Washes over you like warm Floridian waves. Very easy to fall asleep to, in the best sense. “Wake Up”- not bad, fits in with the rest. But nothing special. For those who liked “Tellin’ Stories” and “Us And Us Only”, which basically should be everyone, “Is It In You?̶
        1; is the closest to that period. It threatens to be a great song around the chorus, but somehow fails- ending up as only a good song- could have been a lot more. Final track on my CD is “Ballad Of The Band”. Thought the lyrics might have included references to 2nd-rate baggy wannabes, imprisonment, fatal car crashes and cancer- all of which have afflicted this band over the years- but no. Not trying to make light of any of these (except perhaps the 2nd-rate baggy bit) but how cool a song would the real ballad of this band be? Talk about experiencing the highs and lows. Unfortunately we get another slightly average number- inoffensive, but no more- certainly not inspired. Ah- but finally the news you’ve all been waiting for- audiogalaxy has come up trumps. So I can review the final 2 tracks. Bear with me, make a cup of tea and I’ll give them a listen- back shortly. Hello- still there? Thanks for your patience. Here we go... “Right On”. Actually, nothing special. Typical bung it on at the end of the album track. More British early 90s than the others. “Love To You”. B-side if ever I heard one. Or even one of those dodgy “secret tracks” you get from time to time. It even has the now very cliched "end of vinyl groove sounds at the end of a CD" (unless of course my downloaded version was actually recorded from vinyl- in which case I’m going to look very foolish.) Neither of these songs sound as worked on as the others. I therefore feel a lot happier now- didn’t miss anything special on my cheapo version. All in all though, another very good album from a remarkably resilient band. It fades a bit during the second half but is still well worth a purchase. In fact... Find Fulfilment From First-rate Floppy Fringed Fel
        lows.

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          27.10.2001 00:19
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          It’s hard to believe that the Charlatans have just produced their seventh album (compilations excluded). Not only have they survived baggy and Britpop but a series of personal tragedies that include line-up changes, jail sentences and death. But you can’t keep a good band down, or so it seems and no better proof of this is the polish and verve of their latest album, Wonderland. The shiny laminated; deep-coloured sleeve says it all before you’ve even taken the CD out of the plastic case. Gone is the indie image of Tellin’ Stories and the cut-n-past look of the almost retrospect Us & Us Only. The Charlatans are brimming with swagger and confidence on Wonderland and the sleeve perfectly emphasises this. The first song, You’re So Pretty / We’re so pretty is a strong opener, with it’s beginning almost Dr Dre-esque. The punching bass line is excellent and the funky riff is reminiscent of My Beautiful Friend. If the album The Charlatans (1995) aped the Stones somewhat and Us & Us Only was a good impression of Dylan, Wonderland is like a Manchunian version of a Prince album. Judas, with Tim Burgess trying his best falsetto voice has all the electricity that the Artist had in his prime. The guitars on this song are particularly good, with hooks here and riffs there. The song is very…erm…sonic. Love Is The Key was the first single to be taken off the album, so you should know it now. The introduction of a female backing vocalist (don’t ask me who she is I just have a CD-R version of the album) adds a new dimension to the band. This track is more kicking than a martial arts movie, it sticks in your head like a BMW sticks to the road. If it comes on at a club, you just have to dance to it. A Man Needs To Be Told is a very strong song, without doubt, but is it a good single? Personally I think the second single should have been And If I Fall, but then I raised my e
          yebrows when Travis released Why Does It Always Rain On Me? This song is mellow and quite wonderful. It’s almost got a country twang to it. Burgess continues to push his testies up as far as he can. The lyrics "A man needs to be told / There’s a war going on" seems to be in somewhat relevant to the news. Maybe that’s why it’s a single? The manic jungle finish is a nice touch. I Just Can’t Get Over Losing You is back to the funky Charlatans sound. It lures you into a false sense of mellowness before exploding into something more wonderful. The band may have made a conscious decision to axe choruses from their previous album, but the chorus on this track is especially strong. The Bell & The Butterfly is an instrumental, something unheard of on an album since Opportunity way back on Some Friendly. It begins like Mudslide by The Bluetones, but as no one seemed to buy that record the reference may be lost on you all. But check it out! It then shows its true colours as a dancey Chemical Brothers pastiche. This could have gone belly-up on a band whose main draw is surely the charisma of the voice of their vocalist, but it hasn’t. It’s a great track and should really be something the band tries more of in future. "Yeah Craig David…uh…And If I Fall…Craig David". That’s what you’d nearly expect if you heard the "so polished you could use it as a mirror" sound of And If I Fall. But this is no bad thing at all. In fact with indie music in the horrible state it is now with the only new bands being of the smelly rubbish variety, it’s good to hear the band move away from their peers. This album was created in the band’s own studios and the over-all production is superb, but this track is the best showcase of this. The lyrics are also excellent on this track. "I want to change the world / Just for the hell of it". <
          br><br> That falsetto voice returns in Wake Up. So to does the resounding chorus and what a chorus it is. Juxtaposed with the sparse verse, the chorus is rousing and great for a sing along. This song actually uses a brass section. Who’d ‘a’ thunk it? It is nothing short of sublime. The line "You’d be a little quiet with a gun in your mouth" is a classic and all. Is It In You is a song that drives along with good pace. The keyboard is the outstanding feature in this track, most notably in the chorus. The girl on Love Is The Key, who happens to have a strong and quite beautiful voice, also makes a welcome return to the band. This song is a little dark too. I like that! Ballad Of The Band uses a sample of synth strings as its hook line. The girl is here again to lend Timmy some back up and again she is used to good effect. Besides the greatness of the duet, the bass is fantastic in this track. It’s a sprawling song, full of guitar effects and plenty of synth to add real depth and warmth. The vocal solo is also very strong. Right On could easily have been chosen as the final song on this album. It reminds me of Watching You, but I suspect that it could easily have fitted onto The Charlatans album. This song is also notable because it is a good demonstration of how the band have picked up electric guitars again after nearly abandoning them on their last album. The finest example of this being the solo section, which also includes some fine drumming too. Love You Too is not a Beatles cover version, before you run like the wind. In fact it’s an ever better closer than Right On would have been. It only serves to show how different this album is to its predecessor, because this is the only track that sounds remotely like the Us & Us Only sound. The track builds in a way most suited to closing tracks to give the album a more epic sound. The message "love is stron
          g" isn’t too bad either. So to conclude my little essay on Wonderland…Well it certainly is wonderful. Many people cite their debut album Some Friendly as their finest, but the band has been getting stronger with almost every album (excluding their second!) and this is certainly the peak of their powers in my view. It exudes more confidence than the powerful The Charlatans and the songs are better than those on Us & Us Only. It’s all delivered with power and more professionalism than ever before. The vocals are better, the lyrics are better and the instruments are played better. Is it the finest album of this year? At the moment it is vying with Radiohead and The Divine Comedy and despite getting the Pulp album this morning, I’ve yet to put it on.

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            03.10.2001 20:47
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            In fact, when you think about it, this probably IS the the best album of the Charlatans' carreer. From the outset of 'You're So Pretty', you know that this is a change of direction for the Charlatans. But one that is vital. Like some music hack said recently, the Charlatans have joined Primal Scream in being an old band band but also compulsive and fresh at the same time. In fact, most of the album sounds like they jumped back in time to The Scream's songs between 'Screamadelica' and 'Give Out But Don't Give Up'. This is not, repeat NOT a bad thing. In fact it is magical at times. The standout track on offer is the mesmerising 'Ballad Of The Band', nearly six minutes of a journey through the dark side of life. 'Come with me...', Burgess drawls on the chorus while loping to a furious bass and cracking melody. It could well be the Charlatans' best song yet. The fantastic love song 'I Just Can't Get Over Losing You' is another highlight - a screeching (and astonishing) falsetto by Burgess sounds extremely endearing, especially set amongst the lush female backing vocals. Single 'Love Is The Key' may not have struck you at first but is the most lovely slow burning 'grower' you could hope to find. It soon becomes another high point. Then other songs like 'Right On', 'And If I Fall' and (especially) 'Is It In You?' later assualt your brain with lush melodies and the whole album innovates in some way. Gentle ballad 'A Man Needs To Be Told' is affecting and evocative of the Charlatans' new found soul. Yeah, a REAL soul album with no false gestures; the final melody of 'Love To You' leaves an extremely warm feeling from a surprisingly simple but effective album, lyrical wise. But the drum loops, samples and minimal keyboards make the music more articulate and evocative of the Charlatans' true spirit. No sell out her
            e. I loved 'The Charlatans', 'Tellin' Stories' and 'Us & Us Only', and anyone nervous about a change of direction should shove their doubts aside. This album is a love album...but this is a good thing. The charlatans have never been more vital, or closer to the fans they obviously love. Please, please, PLEASE give us more you Soul Saviours.

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          • Product Details

            Disc #1 Tracklisting
            1 You're So Pretty - We're So Pretty
            2 Judas
            3 Love Is The Key
            4 A Man Needs To Be Told
            5 I Just Can't Get Over Losing You
            6 The Bell And The Butterfly
            7 And If I Fall
            8 Wake Up
            9 Is It In You?
            10 Ballad Of The Band
            11 Right On
            12 Love To You