Album Review: Arrest! Charlie Tipper – ‘Red’

STARTING out in 2013 as The Charlie Tipper Experiment, then The Charlie Tipper Conspiracy and more recently adopting the Arrest! Charlie Tipper moniker, these Bristol-based indie stalwarts have certainly kept us guessing about their name whilst releasing a steady stream of quality albums and singles.

I once contacted the band to ask who Charlie Tipper actually was and was amused by their response: “We could tell you-but then we’d have to kill you!” 

Featuring former members of The Five Year Plan, The Groove Farm, Beatnik Filmstars, The Rosehips and The Flatmates was always going to make for an intriguing promise of quality. Old hands in the indie world often stick with the style they’re best known for but in The Tippers’ case they’ve successfully created a sound which is theirs alone. 

The vocals have a yearning quality; guitars are either gently strummed or attacked with vigour. There are keyboard pulses and big swooshing sounds which lead you to suspect at least one band member has a few dusty old Hawkwind albums in their collection. Many songs have a cornet playing; mournful embellishments which often remind me of Morricone western scores … in short, what Arrest! Charlie Tipper excel at is atmosphere. On songs like “The 93%”, the cornet will sometimes leap to the fore and play a more upbeat motif (in a June Brides, early Jasmine Minks or Brilliant Corners trumpet style).

Another important piece of the Tipper jigsaw is the political edge to many of the lyrics, a more than welcome element in these troubled times; there are also songs laced with doomed romance and a kind of resignation that things don’t always work out for the best, such as “You say I’m soft these days – I’m not as weak as you say” from “Shelf”, a song infused with bursts of amusement arcade keyboard sounds and insistent Buzzcocks guitar. 

The words to “Don’t Leave Me Alone” also have that kitchen sink drama feel, which will be familiar to those captivated by the lyrics of David Gedge in his prime. 

My favourite song here is “Hurt”: a slow burner which starts as a dead ringer for something off Luna’s Bewitched LP, before a deep Melody Nelson-sounding bass comes in to carry the song through to its heavier crescendo.

 Red is Arrest! Charlie Tipper’s fourth album and easily their best so far, but the band have already revealed they’ve been busy during lockdown recording an ambitious double album that they claim is even better. It’ll be hard to top this one for sure but we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Hopefully Red will help to make the band more well known as they certainly deserve it after this splendid effort. 

To purchase Red, visit Arrest! Charlie Tipper’s Bandcamp page.

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