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Wonderland

The Charlatans UK

Release Date: 09.11.01
Record label: uni/mca
Genre(s): Rock

60 Music-Critic Score
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And the Years Go On
by: peter naldrett - uk correspondent


Despite problems of embezzlement by their accountant, and band members living all over the world, one-time Indie Kings, The Charlatans, are back. And, for about five minutes, Wonderland promises to live up to its name and be really cracking album.


After a really mediocre start, there is a precise change of mood with the excellent instrumental "The Bell And The Butterfly," a lengthy groove-fest which is sincere welcome break. The pledge of better things continues into the pleasing ballad "And If I Fall," but the problem is that the next five tracks are rather like the first five-repetitive and lacking inspiration.


The Charlatans are the classic example of the 90s indie band that rose to fame on the back of the new wave of Manchester Music, even though they are actually from Norwich. Their first single, "The Only One I Know," was clearly their best and it’s been down hill from there, nothing they have released has lived up to that early promise.


Annoyingly singing falsetto for much of the time, Tim Burgess sounds like a hyper Beck on "You’re So Pretty-We’re So Pretty," and even manages to turn the chorus of new single "Love Is The Key" into a U2-style parade. While these and others like "Right On" and "Love To You" on this album aren’t going to be placed in my Room 101 because they don’t plummet to unimaginable musical depths, they are also stunted and a long way from being spectacular tracks, much less deserving the wave of critical praise that has been poured on them by other critics.


Their seventh album, and coming on the back of summer of headlining festivals, I didn’t expect anything outstanding from The Charlatans, a band clearly belonging to a different time and at its most relevant when compiling a list of early 90s influences. Some critical excitement has clearly been generated with Wonderland, but much of it has made too much of a mediocre album that has been released at a time when there is general lull in new material to watch out for. 16-Sep-2001 3:45 PM