Rating: 0.6 // 10
Genres: Pop-Rock, Singer-Songwriter
Released: 22/05/2020, Bella Union
Tim Burgess combines imaginative lyrics and interesting sonic ideas before stretching them out beyond their need across an incohesive project.
After four solo LPs and 13 as frontman of The Charlatans, Tim Burgess has covered many different sounds to varying degrees of success. On I Love The New Sky he replicates this – by cramming as many ideas into songs as possible.
When it pays off, it is a delight to listen to, before it is dragged beyond its welcome. On other cuts, the clash of styles becomes too much, such as the more industrial noises on The Warhol Me.
Luckily, one of the better cuts comes right at the start. Empathy For The Devil has a poppy feel to it, bouncing along its relatively abstract lyrics. There is so many elements to this song – the synths over the breakdown, the violins added deep into the song, somehow works.
However, the upbeat track slowly loses its charm as it continues past the three minute mark. Sweetheart Mercury features a more electro vibe, with slight manipulation of the voice and other synth based elements.
The light hint of bongo in the background is a nice touch, but as Burgess hardly changes his tone of voice throughout the project, it again becomes stale and goes on too long.
Comme D’Habitude introduces us to a more jazz-based feel, in a quite laidback track. The high-pitched backing vocals on the chorus come across as childish, but the piano in general, and the added jazz elements such as the saxophone after the breakdown are more than welcome.
Sweet Old Sorry Me is a slug to get through, offering nothing really of note or anything new. By now you can hear the formula for songs – begin with an idea, play it out for two minutes or so, feature an interesting breakdown that breaks up the monotony of the track, before dragging it out even further.
On The Warhol Me Burgess draws elements of industrial music, with an obnoxious whirring that fades in and out of each ear, much to the detriment of the track. The throbbing synths over a relatively normal pop-rock piano and guitar combo is nice idea, but that high-pitched screech detracts so much from it. Lyrically Burgess is at his most enjoyable, preaching:
“I see colours you can’t see,
The Warhol me,
Burning round the city,
The Warhol me,
I’m making entries in my diary,”
The industrial noises take us out of the song, but once more we are subjected to far too much of it. Whilst I’m a fan of pieces that use ambient sounds to close out songs, the near two minutes we receive (out of five and half) is far too much. I will give credit to the flow into the next track, Lucky Creatures.
The whirring noises give way into almost a marching drum beat, serious and sinister in tone, which itself disappears into a relaxed, jazzier pop-rock track.
That quick build up of tension and release comes off really well – because in contrast to the rest of the album, it is an idea executed well and swiftly. Overall, a good song.
The Mall has an almost twinkle to it, thanks to the piano and chimes. On this track we finally get some proper variation in delivery and tone, with luscious backing vocals and violins layered over the chorus.
The vocals match the music so well, and for me, this is a standout moment on the album. The synth breakdown matches well with an electric guitar solo, and whilst on the slightly longer side, it doesn’t feel as drawn out.
This section of the album is the most cohesive, with the lounge music style seeping in. The high hat and kicks are utilised more than ever, running into Timothy.
Whilst I couldn’t really identify a running theme throughout apart from this being about Burgess (for the most part), it becomes a bit clearer on this track, as it highlights his thinking process and thoughts.
If that is the theme, I’d argue it isn’t carried out in full throughout.
Timothy itself is very much like The Mall, except not as deep in its production. Same formula, with a synth breakdown again. There are a few backing vocals on this track, and a bit of light voice manipulation, but after the highlight of The Mall, it kind of falls a bit flat. Not a bad track though.
Only Took A Year returns to a guitar based sound, but overall, it is a tad forgettable and repetitive. Again over the four minute mark, and not much to show for it.
The next track, I Got This, involves more sounds, with the shakers and organs over a subtle bassline really building into something nicely. The backing vocals are more stand out as well, thanks to being offset with Burgess’ voice. However, lyrically, it is the most basic and his delivery is one-note throughout.
The penultimate song, Underlow is a slower ballad, which again features a synth-based breakdown to break up what is a completely repetitive song.
Finally, Laurie is closest to classic pop-rock, with multiple guitars and piano joined by a synth that sort of highlights the end of a line. The breakdown hardly features much change, and as a whole, this track is a replica of that style outlined above. After a decent start and stronger middle, the ending is underwhelming.
Overall, there is enough interesting ideas on here to listen to, but its replay-ability is questionable.
- Empathy For The Devil (B+)
- Sweetheart Mercury (C)
- Comme D’Habitude (C+)
- Sweet Old Sorry Me (C-)
- The Warhol Me (C)
- Lucky Creatures (B+)
- The Mall (A-)
- Timothy (B-)
- Only Took A Year (C)
- I Got This (B+)
- Underlow (C-)
- Laurie (C)