Morcheeba follows up Fragments of Freedom, their disco-infused pop record, with a mellower and richer album that grows more interesting with time. While not as instantly likeable as their previous works, Charango's layered tracks cannot be fully appreciated with the first listen. Adding more horns and the eponymous charango -- a small guitar made from an armadillo shell -- to their trip-pop acoustic/electronic mix, Morcheeba have succeeded once again at reinventing their sound.
Skye Edwards' able voice complements Paul and Ross Godfrey's music, creating an album of many moods and many sounds. On "Way Beyond", Skye's delicate singing about consumerism is set to a stripped down beat to create a surprisingly beautiful balled about over-consumption. So effortless that it's comforting, Skye's dulcet voice and the thoughtful production of Paul and Ross Godfrey make it easy to forget the trite lyrics and focus on the music, which throughout the album is superb.
Morcheeba continues to excel at meshing their sound with hip-hop. While the influence is played down on most of the tracks, the subtlety provides freshness and depth. Their pairing with Slick Rick on "Women Lose Weight" offsets the subdued style that characterizes the album with an up-tempo beat. Skye battles Slick Rick's tongue-in-cheek rhymes about murdering his wife because she's fat with some of the strongest singing she's done, creating a fight that neither artist can win. And it's better off that way. Even with lyrics like, "Fat chicks, I don't mean to sound rude, / I tell her nice, 'Hit the gym / Don't eat so much food,'" the entire package is undeniably likable and one of Charango's standouts. Collaborations with Pace Won of the Outsidaz on "Charango" and "Get Along" prove to be equally successful, showcasing the bands versatility and ingenuity.
On Charango, Morcheeba tie together songs with diverse sounds through rich, intricate production and Skye's mellifluous voice. By pushing themselves even further, they have added another memorable album to their small, but consistently good discography. - Dean Agnos