To make peace with the death of founding member Jon Brookes, English indie band The Charlatans released their new album, “Modern Nature,” in late January. Their songs are classified as hauntingly intense songs that contain the same overtones and tones as The Beatles.
Their new album includes songs such as “Talk in Tones,” “So Oh,” “Come Home Baby,” “Keep Enough” and “In The Tall Grass Emilie.”
A lot of the songs have guitar riffs and lyrics that reflect the struggles that the band has experienced over the course of their life as a band. Brookes recently passed away from brain cancer, and a couple of years before that, keyboardist Rob Collins was arrested and charged with armed robbery and left the band. Through the echoing sounds of sad ’70s soul grooves, the band demonstrates the sadness they face.
The album’s cover art also reflects this feeling of loss and melancholy. The four band members are not close; rather, they are spaced out in their own areas, walking around with their heads down on some beach, with the sunset in the distance and waves rolling through the sound of their music. Their hair is unkempt, and it seems as if they didn’t make much of an effort to dress in anything special.
The songs’ lyrics try to create a balance between happiness and the mourning the band feels regarding Brookes’ death. “Talking in Tones” is a metaphor for them picking up the phone to answer Brookes’ call from heaven: “I never liked the fact/ and I don’t like to moan/ I thought we had a pact/ We’re talking in tones.”
The band is upset at Brookes’ sudden death and do not know how to respond when they “pick up Brookes’ call.” Toward the end, however, they write: “I feel strengthened by your presence” commemorating Brookes’ omnipresent existence, living through his powerful soul.
“Come Home Baby” is another song in memorial to Brookes: “Just when you’re thinkin’ things over/ […] and all your friends seem disappointed,/ To see the sun going down/ and when the sweetness you’re saving/ Is all the sweetness you doubt/ I’m coming home.” This refers again to the sudden nature of Brookes’ passing and their disappointment.
“The sun going down” is a metaphor for Brookes’ slow, progressive illness that gets worse and worse every day, until it finally sets. “I’m Coming Home” is a way for the band members to say that they are able to finally connect to Brookes up in heaven.
Another part of the lyrics provides an even more vivid description: “I found you soaking in liquid/ I found you there in your robe,/ Ain’t no hands big enough to save us,/ I got the vibe, I’m coming home./ I see you close up your windows,/ I see you burn down your throne.” The progressive nature of the cancer invading Brookes’ body is cleverly and concisely written through this part of the song, with images of “soaking,” “liquid” and “robe” all combined to create an even more dramatic effect to the song. “I see you close up your windows” and “I see you burn down your throne” symbolizes Brooke’s final surrender to the illness, allowing himself finally go home to Heaven.
“Let The Good Times Be Never Ending,” “I Need You To Know,” “Trouble Understanding” and “Lot To Say” are other song titles that reflect the band’s desire to stay close to Brooke. They want to revive his memory through the “good times never ending,” and there is a lot that the band still needs to say to him, as his death was something they had “trouble understanding.”
Overall, the band’s new album is mostly a commemoration of Brookes. Even though the songs are beautiful, groovy and contain light tunes, the songs are actually the band’s way of trying to cope with their feeling of Brookes’ death. Through the songs’ metaphors, imagery and intense guitar melodies, his remembrance is clearly expressed throughout the album.