“This is the sound of a once commercial indie success story with a puppy-dog sneer, now a mature and reflective individual…”
Tim Burgess | Oh No I Love You
You might remember Tim Burgess as the frontman with fair-to-middling 90s ‘Madchester’ act the Charlatans. The band was last heard recently touring their 1997 Britpop album Tellin’ Stories, which many consider to be their best (although this writer has a soft spot for the uptempo jam of Up to Our Hips that came out three years earlier).
In the comments section underneath the Guardian stream of this record, Tim’s second solo work, more people seemed moved to write– mostly disparaging– comments regarding his admittedly dodgy haircut than were the actual music. Which, if we’re honest, doesn’t say a great deal for the music. But what about it? Are the people who lost interest before quickly deciding to get back to the real issue of his hair justified? Well yes and no (ah that old ‘sitting on the fence’ response).
The album begins jolly enough (the title alone would explain that). Recent single ‘White’, and the following ‘The Doors of Then’ hop and skip along in easy-going, summer-on-the-hill fashion, all organ and horns and gently strummed guitar. After nearly seven minutes of this kind of thing the inevitable slower-paced come-down track shows up. On this occasion it’s the interestingly named ‘A Case for Vinyl’, and it lasts for the duration of the two cuts that preceded it. The instrumentation used is more or less the same as the sprightlier numbers, only here things are stretched out some more, with Tim in obviously reflective, heart-felt mood. It’s a real slow-burner, but it does have something going for it that is kind of hard to put your finger on, it gets inside your head at least for the duration of the track.
Things pick up again with ‘The Graduate’, with delicately played slide guitar and accompanying tinkling piano. It’s about here when you realise that Oh No I Love You is intentionally a subtle sounding record, nothing is overbearing, the instrumentation, production and vocals are all the equal of each other. In fact the production on the album is probably its best strength, as the songs themselves are not especially forceful.
Elsewhere the pondering ‘Hours’ employs some strings, while ‘Anytime Minutes’ and ‘The Economy’ re-hire the slide guitar (the later oddly sounding a touch like mid period Cocteau Twins). Unfortunately the album from here crawls to the finish. This is the sound of a once commercial indie success story with a puppy-dog sneer, now a mature and reflective individual. One can not hold back time.