After almost two decades of making music together, one would expect The Charlatans UK to have firmly carved out a musical niche. Though their sound remained constant for the better part of a dozen years, 2004's up At The Lake signalled a shift in direction for the English quintet, sounding more like dance music than straightforward rock. With the release of their latest album, Simpatico, The Charlatans have continued on that path, to the same great success.
Simpatico kicks off with "Blackened Blue Eyes," a driving rock number which takes its cues from The Smiths. The song has tremendous intensity, which lasts from the first crunchy piano chord until the last repetition of "blackened blue eyes!" rings out over a cymbal crash.
Having the tone set by the first track, the next ten are laced with the same type of dance-pop and a healthy dose of California ska. The ska influence is especially evident on "For Your Entertainment," "City of the Dead," and "The Architect," with the latter being a particularly standout cut. "The Architect" is a prime example of why the Charlatans have enjoyed success for so many years even with limited mainstream exposure.
Put simply, Simpatico is an essential Charlatans album. Despite the amount of change the Charlatans have had to go through to achieve such a diverse collection of songs, the effort was well worth it. If the Charlatans have not yet found their way into your CD library, then Simpatico would be an ideal start.