Release Date: May 26, 2017
Record label: BMG
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The Charlatans have endured two members' deaths and a breakdown. Such upheavals have wrought resilience, reflection and subtle metamorphosis. Here, guest drummers (ex-Verve man Pete Salisbury, New Order's Stephen Morris - who also programmes - and A Certain Ratio's Donald Johnson) bring a different funk. Other contributors include the Smiths' Johnny Marr (guitar on three tracks) and crime novelist Ian Rankin (spoken word).
With that in mind, The Charlatans has refined one helluva status quo for themselves, and one would be hard pressed to necessarily expect more than that for a band beyond its silver anniversary. To be sure, that much is the case for at least half of Different Days, where the band churns out sturdy and dependable dance-inflected trad rock. In light of founding member Jon Brookes's untimely passing in 2013, the band has depended on a certain level of outside contributions, and Different Days features its share of heavyweights.
As a title, Different Days certainly suggests the Charlatans have pushed themselves into a new era. In a sense, they were forced to change. After mourning founding drummer Jon Brookes on 2015's Modern Nature, the group has moved into a different phase with Brookes replacement Pete Salisbury, formerly of the Verve. Anchored by Salisbury, the Charlatans aren't quite as traditionally minded as they used to be and they embrace a new fluidity not only in their rhythms -- which are sometimes enhanced by drum programming -- but their attitude toward collaborations.
North American audiences— if they're old enough— might respond hesitantly with "The Only One I Know" if the U.K.'s The Charlatans are brought up. That song from 1990 is arguably the group's high point on these shores. But on their native soil, The Charlatans are not only current and relevant but held in the highest esteem. This is documented on The Charlatans' 13th album, Different Days, which with the passing of the group's drummer Jon Brookes in 2013, sees the top echelons of British music, as well as some clued up Americans, jumping in to lend a hand wherever needed.
The Charlatans – Different Days Of course you remember The Charlatans, or The Charlatans UK if you are a US resident, a band that were at the forefront of the indie-dance scene of the early-’90s and that are probably best known for the string of hits they enjoyed during that decade, songs like “The Only One I Know”, “One To Another”, “North Country Boy” and others, a band that you may occasionally think share a sound with Inspiral Carpets, Kula Shaker, The Teardrop Explodes and which has much to do with their keyboard-propelled psych-rock approach, a band whom you possibly haven’t heard an tremendous amount from in recent times. The Charaltans (UK) are very much still with us though, continuing to be fronted by vocalist Tim Burgess and his trademark mop of bleached hair, although the award for longest-serving band member goes to bassist and band founder Martin Blunt. They may have had their ups and downs in the approaching three decades since their formation, but the list of guest performers on their thirteenth album should leave even the most sceptical in no doubt whatsoever as to The Charlatans status as musicians.