One of the founding fathers of the Manchester scene are back again with a new album. And they still mean business.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, James are sitting down next to you once again with their new studio album, Living In Extraordinary Times. And there is seemingly no let up in their incredible music making.
Album opener is Hank, a heavy electronic sound, with lead singer, Tim Booth, giving a rasping, almost megaphone like, vocal at the beginning, before the voice you know so well brings a relative calm. Second track in is Coming Home (Pt.2), which will turn into a fan favourite once this hits the road. A sentimental piece, which will grab your attention from the moment the song begins.
Leviathan follows as the albums third track, and again is a keyboard lead number, yet with all the familiar traits you associate with a James song/anthem, with Booth commanding that you, “Get enough before they drop the bomb”. Heads is the fourth offering and sees a hand clapping, “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!”, lead look at America and it’s current stance with the world.
Fifth song is Many Faces and it gets all acoustic, with Booth and company in fine musical standing with each other. A definite favourite of mine on this album, and will be just as infectious when you buy a copy. How Hard The Day is a song of how one person copes with life, and is excellently portrayed in just 3 and a half minutes of subtlety. Extraordinary Times picks up the tempo for the middle of the album, with a loud, brash drum beat and yet another demonstration that James sure know how to write a song that gets people singing, even with a slightly fruity opening verse.
Picture Of This Place is a song that would not have looked out of place when New Order were a happy medium back in the 1980’s. This is pure indie pop at a very fine level. Hope To Sleep is song 9, and Booth certainly wouldn’t disturb you as he and his cohorts gently shuffle through another superb number.
Better Than That is a faster song that follows, and once again has the word ‘anthem’ written all over it. And I challenge you to try and imitate Tim Booth and his falsetto voice during this one. Mask is the second to last track, and once again mixes acoustic with the electronic, and mixes them well. The album finishes with What’s It All About, 7 and a half minutes of pure electronica, with Booth triumphantly proclaiming that he, “was made to pleasure”. And this finisher certainly is a pleasure to listen to.
But, wait! There is more with the bonus track, Backwards Glances. A ghostly sounding number, and indeed very welcome. With demo versions of Moving Car, Overdose and Trouble, you certainly get plenty to choose from with this album.
James still remain one of the most underrated bands in this country, but they still produce quality music and this is no exception. They make their music memorable by making memorable music. If you want a band to sing along to, look no further than James, the masters of the anthem.
Living In Extraordinary Times is released August 3rd, on the Infectious / BMG label