The Charlatans have a habit of producing critically acclaimed albums of solid songs with effortless regularity and Up At the Lake is no exception to this fine British tradition. It's clear that they've been thinking hard about their position in the British music scene: "am I young enough?" Collins implores on "Feel the Pressure"--should they really still be doing this? The answer is an emphatic yes when they're still writing songs of this quality. "High Up Your Tree" with its classic Beatles harmonies, effortless melody and enough space to breath is a standout--not just of this album but of their careers.
Up At the Lake is far from perfect though--both the title track and "Bonafide Treasure" are pedestrian, dad-rock Ocean Colour Scene drop-offs that sounded dreary at the height of Britpop, and the second half of the album ("I'll Sing a Hymn" and "Try and Try Again" in particular) is far better than the first. It's this lumpy consistency that ultimately lets them down, but this is a laudable effort from a band on a decade-long roll. --Ben Johncock