This article was first published on Louder Than War on 20 September 2012.

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Tim Burgess ‘Oh No, I Love You’ (O Genesis)
CD / LP / DL
Released 1 October 2012

 The second solo LP from Charlatans’ frontman Tim Burgess is about to drop – and it’s a beauty!

Written with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner and with collaborations from Factory Floor, R Stevie Moore and, indeed, Lambchop, Oh No I Love You is a brilliantly quirky pop record featuring some stunning songwriting (we like it, can you tell?) 

Sometimes you think you know someone, musically. You’ve lived with their sound for most of your life or certainly as long as you can remember listening for. You expect you can pre-empt their moves, familiarity without the contempt.

But then they surprise you. And it is the surprise which makes you fall in love all over again, not remembering how it was the first time round but living it all over again, in Technicolor. They go from being the familiar furniture of your audio life to all and everything, all over again.

So it is with the new solo album from Tim Burgess.

Oh No, I Love You’s conception took place in a car park a decade ago, as Burgess carried Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner‘s guitar back to his car after a gig, and suggested they write a song together. That proposed collaboration, with Kurt’s words and Tim’s music, has turned into a album. An album bursting with fine songwriting, quirky touches and a hotbed of other contributors, including Factory Floor‘s Gabe Gurnsey and Nik Colk Void.

Heading off with White, the second single to be released from the album, Burgess begins an exploration of experimental sounding pop. The upbeat melody may encourage you to dance but a closer listen reveals an introspective and touchingly honest lyric about love and loss.

This is one of the recurring themes throughout the album and is a credit to the calibre of songwriting that it is in the detailing of the everyday, incidental, gaps left at the end of a relationship, after losing someone, that the bigger, overwhelming task of dealing with loss is indirectly tackled.

The Doors of Then is a bobbing skiffle-infused grin of a number, melodically presenting the uncontainable bubbling up of emotions. But from this exuberance at finding yourself suddenly in love it’s back to loss.

And nowhere else on this album is this theme of loss so painfully at the fore than with A Case For Vinyl. A minimalist melody backs an incredible vocal; Burgess’ voice actually seeming to naturally contain the hiss and crackle of a record. Deeper, more gritty and soulful that his standard offering.

This song is wretched talons dragging open the wound of grief again. It is about the spaces that open when someone isn’t there any more. And it is about the comfort to be found in the continuity and familiarity of music.

Originally released for Record Store Day 2012 A Case for Vinyl is, quite simply, one of the singles of the year. A brutally emotional number delivered in the kindest way by a singer who is raising his game.

But back to the album, for there is much more to be discovered.

Hours is an off-duty Fred Astaire making you giggle as he suavely spins you round in time to the string arrangement. It’s a beautifully lush piece, not overdone, just pleasantly there.

Unlike Tobacco Fields. An almost uncomfortable sounding requiem delivered to a post-apocalyptical world. This is a cinematic sound of a barren landscape, too hot air singing your airways and, again, that sense of loss but that life goes on.

Again, the vocal here deserves a mention, almost spoken word in places delivering an intricate, poetical lyric with almost unexpected depth. It’s comforting though, in the midst of this Grapes of Wrath evocation, the nasal Northwish twang of this north country boy is still very much in evidence.

There is no let up in the second half of the album – it’s all killer, as the saying goes.

More everyday habits and behaviours explored before a backdrop of fun, quirky melodies. This, more than anything, sounds like it was a fun album to record. Tim Burgess and his cast of friends in Nashville, digging through their record collections and turning each other on to new directions.

Of course, there is the tiniest seep from his day job with The Charlatans; the upbeat country sway of Anytime Minutes has an underlying refrain hinting at Wonderland-era Charlatans.

The Great Outdoors Bitches may be more familiar territory vocal-wise but the lyric and ’80s soft-pop gives it the feel of a sitcom theme tune; a smile as you settle into your favourite chair. The Economy takes this ’80’s vibe on, introduces a bit of Curtis Mayfield and comes out sweet and smooth with delightful flourishes.

Closer, A Gain, is a slow build of cracked-voice repeats finally finding salvation with a choir; not showy, or overbearing, just very necessary to the song.

As much about the space between as the sounds themselves this is an excellent and exciting album of experimental pop – effortlessly mixing beats and kitsch to get your feet tapping and song writing to make your heart soar.

Burgess’ exploration of his voice as an instrument pushes the boundaries of what you might expect from The Charlatans frontman, but it is this surprising range that pleases so much.

All words by Sarah Lay.

Image by Hayley Taylor.