Devouring piles of books, and improving his guitar playing, all while conceiving one of the largest ongoing global listening parties on Twitter, Tim Burgess had a musical, and worldly, awakening in 2020.
The Charlatans singer and songwriter “fell in love with the world again,” an epiphany that led to nearly two dozen songs gushing out of him. It was just enough for a double album, a feat Burgess insists wasn’t a matter of indulgence, but one more out of necessity.
“I wanted to give people everything that I’d done,” says Burgess. “I fell in love with the world again. … I had a new perspective. I wanted to learn how to be Tim Burgess who makes solo records. People have a vision of me as the singer in The Charlatans. That’s not going to change. Then there’s me as the Twitter guy. But I just fell in love with the world again and wanted the world to take me with them.”
His sixth solo release since I Love the New Sky in 2020, Typical Music started piecing together in September 2020 through the fall of 2021. Produced by longtime collaborator Daniel O’Sullivan and mixed by Dave Fridmann at Rockfield Studio in Wales—where The Charlatans recorded their 1997 album Tellin’ Stories—Typical Music is Burgess’ oeuvre of better days, a melodic tangle of psychedelic, punk, funk, twangy experimental and rockabilly raves.
Joking that he wanted to name the album something more “grandiose” like This is the Guide to the Universe, Burgess eventually landed on Typical Music, which reflected how music had rescued him from personal upheavals. The mariachi-punk of the title track sprang from a culmination of events for Burgess, including a breakup and the start of a new relationship.
“I think with everything that was going on,” shares Burgess, “I felt that music typically saved everything as well.”
From the opening sweep of “Here Comes the Weekend,” shedding light on the doldrum of a long-distance relationship via cell phone, through the ’80s circuit synth of “Curiosity,” there’s nothing typical about Burgess’ mishmash procession of songs.
Ultimately, Typical Music centers around love, reveals Burgess, in the dizzying drift of “Take Me With You” and the psychobilly twang of “Sooner Than Yesterday,” all the way through the heart-thumping “The Center of Me (Is a Symphony of You)” and the slow gazing “When I See You.”
“It’s essentially an album about love,” shares Burgess. “I think it’s a good subject. I think people have been more connected by fear for the longest time, whether it was COVID or before that in the U.K. with Brexit.”
Typical Music concludes with the nostalgic piano and bass-driven “Sure Enough,” which was accompanied by a stop-motion video directed by Callum Scott-Dyson, and the uplifting close of “What’s Meant for You Won’t Pass You By.”
“I wanted to make an album that rose above and cast out some positive vibes, some that probably stemmed from the listening party and how that was received,” adds Burgess. “It all came hand in hand. I always like to do a few things at once. I think they all kind of bleed into each other even subconsciously. I think there is a real feeling of love on the record and a little bit of transformation.”
For Burgess, Typical Music was also an exercise in songwriting, keeping up with the 20-plus tracks as they were flooding out of him. “Having an open mind is very important,” says Burgess of songwriting. “I base it pretty much on the mood of how it starts. I sit in a particular part of the room and pick up the guitar. I’ll strike a chord and if it feels like it’s the soundtrack to my view, then I’ll go with it and try to get the best melody over that first chord and see where it goes next. It’s like a puzzle in the end.”
In between the conception of Tim’s Twitter Listening Party—playbacks of albums while listeners and the artists that made the record interact in real-time with anecdotes, never-before-seen photos, and other rarities—Burgess is continuously immersed in discovering and rediscovering albums he loves. New Order, The Cure, and The Chemical Brothers as recent musical revisits, have also been added to his expanding guest list on the show.
The show has already featured Paul McCartney, who discussed his 2020 release McCartney III, along with Boy George talking about The Culture Club’s 1983 album Colour By Numbers, Chris Frantz on The Talking Heads’ Fear of Music, and Simon Le Bon on the seminal Duran Duran release Rio.
“I was really thrilled that Julia Holter agreed to do a couple of listening parties,” he says. “I’ve been an admirer of hers for a while. Susanna Hoffs was a big champion and Wendy Smith [of] Prefab Scout—‘Steve McQueen’ [band’s 1985 album] is a favorite of mine. I also had Sophie Roya, We Are King, and Coldplay even did one.”
Refocused on a new Charlatans album, a follow-up to the band’s Different Days in 2017, Burgess said he still connects to many of the band’s 30-plus year backlog of songs. “Sproston Green,” “Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over,” and other Charlatans songs still resonate with him.
“They’re still playable,” said Burgess. “I still recognize the person who wrote them.”
Typical Music track list:
1. Here Comes The Weekend
3. Time That We Call Time
5. ‘Revenge Through Art’
6. ‘Kinetic Connection’
7. ‘Typical Music’
8. ‘Take Me With You’
9. ‘After This’
10. ‘The Centre Of Me (Is A Symphony Of You)’
11. ‘When I See You’
12. ‘Magic Rising’
13. ‘Tender Hooks’
14. ‘L.O.S.T. Lost / Will You Take A Look At My Hand Please’
15. ‘A Bloody Nose’
16. ‘In May’
17. ‘Slacker (Than I’ve Ever Been)’
18. ‘View From Above’
19. ‘Quarter To Eight’
20. ‘Sooner Than Yesterday’
21. ‘Sure Enough’
22. ‘What’s Meant For You Won’t Pass By You’
Photos: Cat Stevens / Courtesy of Big Hassle PR