In Review: Tim Burgess - I Love The New Sky

The fifth solo release from The Charlatans frontman radiates optimism in desolate times.
Posted: 4 June 2020 Words: Matthew Watkin

As the architect of lockdown listening parties, Tim Burgess has become an unexpected source of unity in such difficult circumstances. By paying homage to his favourite records on Twitter, The Charlatans frontman has brought music fans across the globe together in a time where hopefulness feels scarce.

It makes sense, then, that his new solo album I Love The New Sky is defined by its radiance. Written at his Norfolk home and recorded at Rockford Studios with a host of collaborators, it’s an uplifting, whimsical collection of psychedelic pop that shows off Burgess’ wide-ranging taste. Buoyed by bouncy piano melodies, opening track ‘Empathy for The Devil’ skips along sprightly, with an acoustic intro that clearly references The Cure’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. The stomping rhythm of ‘Sweet Old Sorry Me’ apes the pomp of Elton John’s ‘Bennie and the Jets’, but Burgess puts a personal spin on it by binding it with a sweeping string section and mellow guitar solos. ‘The Warhol Me’ ventures into weirder territory. A paean to Los Angeles and 20th century celebrities, it thrums with a Krautrock pulse up until its final third, where it dissolves into nothing more than guitar feedback and ominous synths.

Although I Love The New Sky’s pool of influences is deep, its Burgess’ presence that pulls the album together. He manages to make a mundane shopping trip sound like an escapist fantasy on ‘The Mall’; “They say that you can’t win them all, but you can if you’re at the mall” he croons over wistful strings and dreamlike backing vocals. His warmth and determination shines brightest on ‘I Got This’, a stirring message of positivity which contains the record's most defiant hooks (“Just keep on climbing, one day you’ll be flying”).

Proving his meticulous skill as a seasoned songwriter, Burgess’ optimism thankfully never devolves into twee. Unashamedly retro yet never coming across as derivative, I Love the New Sky is a triumphant, stylistically rich album, and a beacon of light during the strangest of times. 

I Love The New Sky is out now on Bella Union.

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