Review: Tim Burgess – Oh No I Love You
Published on October 3rd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
…in which The Charlatans front man/breakfast cereal pioneer/ex-unorthodox cocaine consumer teams up with Lambchop front man Kurt Wagner, even having him provide the lyrics for him to deliver in that familiar, reedy Salford/Cheshire tone of his. If you hadn’t already guessed that this is largely a country-pop outing, know that Oh No I Love You – Burgess’s second solo LP after 2003’s I Believe – also features contributions from Clem Snide and My Morning Jacket.
At this juncture, Rocksucker sees fit to come clean with a slightly unusual spot of background information pertaining to our own relationship with Oh No I Love You: you see, our promo copy had no artist or title information attached to it, so having dragged it unfurnished into our iTunes, the first track (which we now know to be called “White”) rolled straight into a sequence of various other untitled mishaps without our realising what was happening, resulting in what we perceived to be quite the psychedelic odyssey. This is especially confusing to us since we’re no strangers to Burgess, especially in a Charlatans context, so it goes to show what can happen when you take your eye off the ball.
As such, and through no fault of Burgess’s, we were actually quite disappointed to find Oh No I Love You to be so (relatively) uniform of mood. Does that mean we don’t like it? Does it balls: “White” is sodding marvellous, a loved-up ‘n’ sun-smooched groove with sassy staccato sax and Rob Collins-like organ swirls. The deal is resoundingly sealed when Grandaddy synth-clouds are introduced over the top, the light airiness of Burgess’s vocals – and indeed of those heaped satisfyingly in the background – supplementing an all-round sound which Rocksucker would liken to Gruff Rhys jamming with The Pure Conjecture. So far, so ace.
Next up is “The Doors of Then”, a jangly country-stomp with delightfully laid-out drums, a warm tooty keyboard line and a shot of Help!-era Beatles, before “A Case for Vinyl” mongs things out in consummately Spiritualized-esque – heck, Lambchop-esque – fashion with gently burning church organ and wearily sighed lines like “Distant space where the needle’s been / Just because I didn’t win” and the contestable (if only for Rocksucker) “The playlist hasn’t changed here all that much”. It’s like one of the comedown-y tracks towards the end of Screamadelica, and it’s lovely is what it is…
…but not as lovely as “Hours”, the lush, sophisticated string arrangement of which flutters beautifully around a minor-key strum underpinned with bold, weighty bass; ’tis a strong candidate for standout status, to be sure. Wagner (presumably) lends his grizzled baritone to piano-y moon-gazer “Tobacco Fields”, “The Great Outdoors Bitches” stakes a bold claim for song title of the year, and then penultimate track “The Economy” cranks the levels of bliss back up again with a Burgess falsetto that borders on absurd in places but mostly hits the mark with such fragile humanity that it occupies its soulful surroundings with a surprising level of authority.
Finally, “A Gain” rides us out on an Elbow-y note, a gospel choir joining in for the repeated refrain of “I’ll not brave the depth’s floor for you”, quite conceivably as a means of matching the impact of the line “I saw Casper the Ghost on your cereal box” from earlier (at least, that’s what it sounds like he’s singing).
So, no psychedelic adventure, then, but what we do have merits its place amongst the most accomplished and warmhearted albums we’ve heard all year.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
Oh No I Love You is out now on O Genesis. For more information, please visit timburgessmusic.com