We are one week away from the release of the fifteenth studio album from James.
Let’s put that into some sort of perspective before we go any further.
The first of those albums was released in 1986…thirty two years ago.
“Stutter” was a fragile, folky, flirtatious call from the fringes of the indie pop scene.
“Strip Mine” was stronger, slicker…slightly, only slightly.
“Gold Mother” was poppier, perkier, prettier in some ways.
“Seven” was the sound of the heart and the soul of Tim Booth and every lonely, lively, lusty youth in the country.
“Laid” was the sound of Eno, experimentation, ethereal echoes and pop music colliding.
“Wah Wah” was…”Wah Wah”, an album no other band would ever have thought of.
“Whiplash” was the Britpop album that had nothing to do with Britpop.
“Millionaires” was the comedown with the come hither swagger of “Fred Astaire” beckoning the music buying public.
“Pleased to Meet You” was the farewell to arms…or the false ending and dawning of new beginnings.
“Hey Ma” was that cover and evidence of the balls of artists who refused to bow to fake controversy.
“The Night Before” was exactly that.
“The Morning After” was.
“La Petite Mort” was the sound of the resurrection and insurrection.
“The Girl at the End of the World” was nothing but love.
Here comes one-five.
“Living in Extraordinary Times”.
There will be twelve songs on number fifteen.
I am not a real journalist…or even a real person…so I do not qualify for pre-release copies of albums by James.
Here is what we know already.
“Better Than That” is anthemic.
Drums pound so hard that they threaten to throw your heart out of sync.
Guitars throb and pulse deep inside the grooves of the record then worm their way into your soul and do the same thing there.
All the while Tim gives us naked apes, fame on a plate, shows us where we crack and then urges us to live like today is our last day.
“Hank” is not what one would call subtle.
It is a roar of righteous indignation, the likes of which was last heard when Jesus chased the money lenders from the Temple…”IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE?” he raged and here Tim delivers an equally irate, furious and ferocious blast at the Trump presidency. Tiny fingers, fascists, voter suppression and hotel showers (nudge-nudge) are all flung in the face of the forty-fifth President of the United States with a cacophonous wall of sound behind it. It’s agit-pop with more pop than one normally associates with that.
“Coming Home (Pt.2)” is the diary of a father far from home and out of touch with the only people who really matter…family. Parents everywhere know that for all the gripes and grumbles about bringing up children that when we are away from them all we really want is to be back with them…to be coming home. Children everywhere know that for all the gripes and grumbles about how they are being brought up by their parents that when they are away from their folks all they really want is to be back with them…for them to be coming home. There is an honesty, a yearning, a sadness that lies at the heart of this song that should bring a tear to the eye of everyone who isn’t already dead who hears it.
“Many Faces” is, if such a thing exists, classic James.
Classic James doesn’t exist.
They are a band who have constantly sought out new sounds, new ideas and new ways of being…James.
What did I mean?
Well…it has a slightly folky beginning which made me think of “Stutter” and “Stripmine”…but then there is electronica which made me think of “The Girl at the End of the World”…then there were choirs and a catchy chorus which made me think of, well, loads of things and loads of moments in this remarkable bands back catalogue.
Maybe that is classic James…things that seem familiar and that are, at the same time, completely unfamiliar.
From fifteen and it’s twelve tracks I have heard four and have managed to write over seven hundred words about them…stand by your beds for a “proper” review in a weeks time.
A “proper” review!
I’m not capable of such a feat…let’s all wait for my improper thoughts on what promises to be, yet another, career high from James.