Caveat emptor: if you have a low attention span, having been weaned on power-pop-emo or happy hardcore, you might get bored by the end of the first verse of most of the tracks here, as the chaps from the Charlatans like the slow unfolding of a song, over the quick payoff.
It’s a pity, though, because most of these tracks don’t pay out at all – you get to the end, and wonder where the last hour of your life went. Apart from the opener, ‘Love Is Ending’, and the middle tracks ‘Intimacy’ and ‘Sincerity’, you have a sub-Eagles, 70s power-pop plod.
That opener, a massive crash of distortion and shoegazey textures, mixed up with a bit of good old garage rock, is a false dawn, a tease, a seduction that fails to pay off at all throughout the next hour. The Seventies loom large here, down to the weird spoken word Pink-Floyd rip off that is the bonus track on the end of ‘You Can’t Swim’, but mainly through the aforementioned Eagles and the latter lushness of the Beach Boys.
Unlike their effort of a decade back, where dance rhythms, electronics, guitars and proper songs were fused to the organs that seem to have become a fixation with the band, here everything is gauze and haze, and no actual punch, bar the powerful driving beat underneath ‘Sincerity’, when it’s allowed to roar with some guitars sounds vital (although the overproduced majority of the song still sounds a bit dull).
‘Intimacy’ has everything a song should have – twists, turns, interesting bits, humour (if in this case, of allying a circus beat to a song about rejection) and something to keep you listening to the end. The skip button became a very familiar one during this, trying to find bits of songs with something to recommend them, but zilch, nada, nothing.
If you want to bore your partner, soundtrack an incredibly long and undeviating road, or fall asleep on the metro, then buy this album.