The Charlatans, Forever: The Singles

★★★★☆

Following the underwhelming Simpatico, The Charlatans have decided (or perhaps been contractually obliged) to release a compilation of hit and not-so-hit singles drawn from their sixteen or so years of existence. The collection’s chronological order lends a strong feeling of the band’s development – important for a band that’s shown a constant willingness to change direction. The Charlatans have distinguished themselves as survivors, perhaps thanks to their ability to constantly re-invent themselves, from the Madchester baggy of ‘The Only One I Know’, to the gritty northern soul of ‘One To Another’, and the Dylanesque blues of ‘Impossible’. Many of these songs will be familiar, perhaps even overly so, but this collection gives them a fresh lease of life, showing how timeless The Charlatans are; none of these songs sound at all dated.

There are missteps – the awful dance re-mix of ‘You’re So Pretty We’re So Pretty’ tucked away at the end of the album, possibly a worrying sign of things to come. But this is the only deviation in an otherwise remarkably solid, lively and interesting collection. Proving The Charlatans to be an adept singles band, this collection will tempt many to delve further into their back catalogue.

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