Tim Burgess firmly believes that “the future is friendly”. This line from I Got This sums up the positive vibrations he brings to the table for this, his fifth solo release to date.
The mop-topped Charlatans front man is clearly in a good place right now. All twelve tracks were composed after self isolating in the middle of the countryside in Norfolk. With no distractions, he wrote everything on acoustic guitar and allowed the melody and words to benefit from the creative flow.
Burgess was impressed by Grumbling Fur's 2013 album ‘Glynnaestra’ to the point that he recorded a song with the British psychedelic pop duo made up of Alexander Tucker and Daniel O'Sullivan. They reciprocated by remixing a couple of Charlatans tunes and O’Sullivan wound up on arranging and production duties for 'I Love The New Sky' as well as playing bass, drums and piano. His influence is evident on a rambling instrumental coda to The Warhol Me and to the loose experimental flavour overall.
Other contributions come from avant-jazz violinist Peter Broderick (Empathy for the Devil) and maverick musician and producer Thighpaulsandra best known for his keyboard turns with Julian Cope, Coil, Spiritualized and Elizabeth Fraser.
An uplifting chamber-pop feel characterizes many tracks, for example on Sweetheart Mercury and Lucky Creatures. Meanwhile, on Comme D'Habitude, Burgess combines laid-back West Coast vibes with a line from Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding ("diving for pearls") and a hint of the wry Francophile humour of 10cc's 'Une Nuit A Paris'.
Only the "idle contemplations" of Undertow hint at more sombre reflections and even these are made palatable through the sterling efforts of the Echo Collective string section.
The playful pop of Only Took A Year is a jokily self referential nod towards the year of magical thinking that led to a record which involved visits to studios in Stockport, South Wales and Brussels.
All told, Burgess offers an off-kilter antidote to the cynicism and pessimism that dominates the headlines these days and provides a welcome reminder of what incurable optimism sounds like.