James

"La Petit Mort, James"

(Cooking Vinyl); Pop

By ​Phil ​Bennett

One of the most endearing and enduring of the bands to have come out of Manchester during the Britpop era, James have been around for a couple of decades, broke down, broke up, got back together again, laid low for six years or so and are now back with a brand new album of finely polished gems.

La Petit Mort is anything but what its title suggests - it brims with creative fire and crackles with energy and life.

A bit more dancy than usual in some places, James’ trademark catchy choruses, punchy melodies, pointed lyrics and concise but imaginative arrangements are all here.

And Tim Booth’s vocals are as evocative as ever, an astonishingly melancholy voice that circles obsessively around the themes of hope, hopelessness and happy sadness.

There are so many diamonds here - the slowly building All In My Mind, the beautifully ironic Frozen Britain, the insistent Interrogation.

But it’s truly noteworthy that they can still create such a brilliant slice of pulsating power pop as Moving On, a song that reaches out and holds you in its arms like an old friend. The type of song that kicks off careers and showcases years of preparation for that first hit single. Except now we’re 30 years down the track!

In 2012, James released a box set retrospective, the musical equivalent of a retiree’s memoirs, but it seems this was only a semi colon in their story.

Let’s hope the full stop never comes.

​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.