Certain albums seem to fit better when placed in an environment or location. They might be better understood when listened to during a specific season or time of the year as well. For example, Christmas music (holiday music) is unlistenable at any other time. I would argue that holiday music is unlistenable period, but that is another story.
It was unbearable when the ice cream truck circled the neighborhood where I lived in L.A. blaring Silent Night in July. That might seem like an extreme example, but for some reason listening to The Cure in Florida doesn't feel quite the same as it did at the height of winter in Colorado.
The Charlatans’ new LP, “Modern Nature” that actually came out in January of this year sounds like the perfect record for this time of year. I revisited it recently and now with the warmer weather baring down, I truly felt what the band were going for and it is definitely worth a mention. "Modern Nature" just feels like a summer record.
The Charlatans, along with the Stone Roses were arguably the leaders of the Manchester, UK scene, which dominated a lot of popular music in the 90's and was kind of like the U.S. Grunge scene's groovy cousin. It was sonically a throwback to the psychadelic 60's but given a more modern approach. After their second album they began embracing the 70's and they never were quite the same giving up some of their originality in favor of trying to sound like other bands from different eras.
But, being more than a mere cover band they channeled a more distinct Rolling Stone sound that they revisit here on the excellent track "Trouble Understanding." They have opened for the Rolling Stones on occasion and obviously are fans.
A large part of The Charlatans early success can be attributed to their extremely talented keyboardist Rob Collins, who tragically died in 1996. His signature style was a trademark of their sound and a large part of what made them special. Without his talents, something felt missing for some time. On "Modern Nature" they have returned to the 60's and increased his trademark style of keyboards on several tracks but are still embracing the 70's again as well.
With "Modern Nature," the Charlatans' sound seems to have matured which makes sense since they are older and more mature, and it feels polished. With each album, this being number 12, they have always added new sounds and experimented with their sound.
On Modern Nature, they are branching out again with violins on "Keep Enough.” "Come Home Baby" and "Let The Good Times Be Never Ending," lead singer and seemingly ageless Tim Burgess is backed by a gospel choir. The latter track is underscored by an acoustic disco beat no less. Emilie is a highlight and reminds one of Hotel California. The melodies here are all pretty tight and this is their best album since Simpatico in 2006 and one of their best since their start.