The Charlatans – Us And Us Only (1999): Review

charlatans

Produced by The Charlatans
Label – Universal

For all the fraught difficulty that brought about the inception of 1997’s “Tellin’ Stories” two years previously, the album was an enormous success for the band and definitively raised the profile of The Charlatans as leading lights in the Britpop movement. The sparse sounds and acoustic atmospherics were a world away from their original output, and where the band were well aware of their early references to baggy Pop and The Stone Roses, the influences of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones were beginning to affect songwriting and performance, with mainly positive results. “Us And Us Only” continues in very much the same vein as its predecessor, with a reliance on more acoustic instrumentation and a nod to American Blues, but still maintaining their definitive and distinct Madchester rhythms. The challenging shifts in style mutate seamlessly throughout, and in many respects the expansion in sound shows the band’s development in both songwriting and performance.

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The opener, “Forever”, remains not only the album highlight, but one of the most outstanding songs from the bands’ illustrious career. A driving bass rhythm and swirling keyboard soundscape leads into a dark, intense, and yet celestially insistent revelation. Although there’s none of the immediate chart aimed tunes such as “North Country Boy” or “One To Another”, there’s subtle and lasting depth in the Dylanesque “A House Is Not A Home” and “My Beautiful Friend”. O.K, there’s little innovation and the new influences are a little too transparent, but largely “Us And Only Us” is a consistent effort throughout and continues the development of one of the most undeniably underrated British bands of the last 15 years.

Thorough, assured and consistent, The Charlatans continue to impress with another inspired performance.

8/10

Track Listing
“Forever” – 7:25
“Good Witch, Bad Witch 1” – 0:51
“Impossible” – 5:04
“The Blonde Waltz” – 4:31
“A House Is Not a Home” – 4:50
“Senses (Angel On My Shoulder)” – 4:45
“My Beautiful Friend” – 4:32
“I Don’t Care Where You Live” – 2:55
“The Blind Stagger” – 4:56
“Good Witch, Bad Witch 2” – 3:23
“Watching You” – 5:35
“Tony’s Bar & Grill” (hidden track) – 1:15

The Charlatans – Tellin’ Stories (1997): Review

The Charlatans – Modern Nature (2015): Mini Review

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