A low-key marvel...

Tim Burgess is one of the hardest working men around. Not content with spearheading The Charlatans, writing three books, and becoming a haphazard coffee impresario, his O Genesis label is a fine portal into underground sounds.

Of late, though, the singer’s solo work has taken on a collaborative bent. No more, it seems, with his fine new album ‘I Love The New Sky’ turning inwards, a 12 strong collection of chamber pop that offers subtle reflection and moments of beaming joy.

Written at his home in Norfolk, the pieces were then arranged by Daniel O’Sullivan from Grumbling Fur, who adorned them in sounds both beautiful and unexpected. It’s a curious combination: imagine some coy, naive indie pop wrapped in almost Baroque levels of aural intricacy, akin to an early Pastels record swathed in John Cale arrangements.

Witty opening gambit ‘Empathy For The Devil’ segues into the wonderful ‘Sweetheart Mercury’, a deeply English take on chamber pop that recalls the poignancy of The Left Banke left to take root in the Broads.

A record built around succinct precision, each song rattles past without overstaying its welcome - ‘Sweet Old Sorry Me’ is child-like in its innocence, for example, while ‘Undertow’ puts you in mind of solitary figures engaging in sombre Autumnal walks through countryside shade.

‘Warhol Me’ - perhaps the most direct John Cale cypher on the record – is flamboyant, a kind of home-spun decadence prowling in its Velvets stomp. ‘I Got This’ supplies an unexpectedly timely manifesto, with Tim Burgess left to croon that wonderful line “the future is friendly...” 

Perhaps his strongest solo collection in some time, ‘I Love The New Sky’ holds true to an innate but rarely explicit sense of optimism. Softly uplifting in a very English way, it feels like a slow exhalation, a record that gently tugs at your sleeve. A low-key marvel.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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