Under Review: The Charlatans – Who We Touch

Unfortunately, this review is going to be a much different one that I planned to write when I put Who We Touch on my schedule a few weeks ago.  I probably would’ve said something about how, unlike the last album from The Charlatans, Who We Touch was released in a very conventional manner.  2008’s You Cross My Path was, for a while, available for free download from the band, showing that these veteran rockers were more forward thinking than their retro-styled tunes might have implied.  Instead of getting into that, though, I am forced to refer to the recent medical crisis which has stricken the group.  Just over a week ago, while performing at Philadelphia’s finest haunt, Johnny Brenda’s, drummer Jon Brookes collapsed onstage.  In the week since, the group has postponed the rest of their tour to give Brookes time to recover from what was discovered to be a brain tumor.  To that end, I can’t bring myself to listen to or write about Who We Touch without wishing Brookes and the band well.

Honestly, though, I’ll rather be celebrating The Charlatans’ other albums.  Who We Touch is the band’s longest album in their decades-spanning catalogue, and it feels just as long as it is.  While the set lacks a clear standout like You Cross My Path had in the title track or Simpatico had in “Blackened Blue Eyes,” the jangly “My Foolish Pride” and the kraut-y “Sincerity” are pretty entertaining.  In just under an hour, The Charlatans fumble through countless overlong tunes that rarely make an impact.  Half of the songs push past the 5 minute mark, which doesn’t count as being overlong when the songs are catchy.  “Trust In Desire” and the opening “Love Is Ending” aim for anthemic but come across more as generic.  Given The Charlatans’ recent successes, I’m willing to bet that Who We Touch is just a brief misstep.  Still, I hope that when they bounce back from their recent misfortune, they won’t lose the wit and edge that has kept them relevant this long into their career.

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~ by E. on September 24, 2010.

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