Sunday 1 December 2013

Charlie Big Time - Sale Or Return EP

EP review by

It's been getting on for a year and a half since we last heard from Bolton trio Charlie Big Time, and that was their wonderful 'Dishevelled Revellers' EP. They say that good things come to those who wait, but with music, the reason for that wait can be infighting, lack of ideas or focusing on different projects. There have been countless times where the wait hasn't been worth it. Whether Charlie Big Time will honour the 'Sale Or Return' guarantee given to this new record or not we don't know, and neither will we, or anyone else for that matter, be likely to find out. Put simply, if you like indiepop music that avoids the dreaded "twee" trappings or the now vastly overused lo-fi production technique, then the four tracks here are for keeps. The timing is perfect too; as we slip into the darkest part of the year and chill of winter that awaits, 'Sale Or Return' is like wrapping yourself up in a big cosy duvet with a mug of hot chocolate - heck, you could even stick a shot of whisky in there for good measure.

It will be lead-track 'A Sunday Afternoon Well Spent' that will grab the headlines so to speak, being the most uptempo song here and also possessing a misty-eyed glow that softens the beats and the guitars, leaving you with a lovely warm feeling. The song 'Sale Or Return' uses subtlety and understatement as a means to grab your attention, proving that you don't need pyrotechnics to reel people in. It's a tune that forces you to simply pause and listen at its pensive mixture of both sadness and hope. It's every bit the match of the more upbeat opener. There's also a certain sadness to be found in 'Pitiful, Delightful And Alarming', where you simply "love someone 'cos you're lonely". In a past life this could have been a soppy '80s ballad, but the style of the band put paid to that idea. With the mournful sense that pervades this EP, it's something of a paradox that it can be so heartwarming, and this is perhaps best summed up on 'From The Cradle To The Bar' which talks of letting people down and not succeeding in life the way you may have been expected to, yet the deftness of touch and the lyrics put you firmly on the side of the subject. You can throw away the receipt for this one, it won't be needed.

Charlie Big Time's website

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