The Charlatans UK

Who We Touch

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No other pre-Oasis band embraced trad-rock like the Charlatans -- and to be fair, they did it exceedingly well, translating their baggy beats to a cool, swaggering rock & roll shuffle that paid off great dividends over the course of the next 15 years. By the end of the 2000s, they had become the rarest of things, a reliable rock band that seldom disappointed but the flip side of that is that they rarely surprised, either. Who We Touch is where that all changes. On this 2010 album, the Charlatans recapture their sense of adventure, something that is immediately apparent once the album kicks off with the neo-shoegaze swirl of “Love Is Ending,” simultaneously the loudest and lightest they’ve been in years. “Love Is Ending” ushers in a rush of sound, the textures taking precedent over groove but not at the expense of the songs, which remain smoothly assured. The Charlatans channel much of their energy into the sound of the album, shifting palates for each song, letting the softer moments revel in delicate textures, having the trippier moments stretch out on elastic loops of samples and keyboards, all the louder moments resulting in a cool wall of sound, not a repurposed swagger. It’s recognizably the Charlatans -- it’s hard to disguise Tim Burgess’s laconic drawl or the light psychedelic pull of his melodies -- but they’re unexpectedly abandoning their dad-rock handbook and taking risks, winding with their freshest, best album since they traded the Happy Mondays for the Rolling Stones.

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