Since the release of ‘Sit Down’, one of the most seminal tracks of the nineties, James have released a staggering 15 studio albums – an especially impressive feat when you consider the band had a six-year hiatus in the early naughties.
You would be forgiven for asking if after all of this time, and all this music, whether the Manchester band could still have something to say, let alone still be relevant. But James with All the Colours of You, have not only released a record that beautifully reflects the shared human trauma of the pandemic but they have also come out with a record that shines like a beacon, offering hope, light, and a confirmation that music can really help be the voice for positive change.
The vocal sounds (not really lyrics as such) on ‘Zero’, the opening track, are accompanied by the electric piano captivate like a morning serenade, following a peaceful slumber before front man Tim Booth opens with: “We’re all gonna die, That’s the truth; Quit measuring time, By money and youth”. It shocks you with such a start that you are forced in, if only to see where it might end up lyrically. The song builds in emotion as each instrument (James now boasts nine members) adds to the elevation of the track. At the end of this five and half minute sonic sledgehammer you are left feeling breathless. What a start.
Previously released singles tend to be the most poignant topically and cover a wide range of themes. The title track deals with the carnage of divisive political agendas fuelled by xenophobic hate, ‘Beautiful Beaches’ deals with climate change and the fires that devastated parts of California (the crescendo of which will leave even the most stoic of listeners blurry eyed), while ‘Recover’ details Booth’s experience of losing his father-in-law to COVID-19.
‘Wherever It Takes Us’ like ‘Zero’ is another track that stands out due its beautifully chaotic verses interspersed with a celestial, gospel-like chorus.
The album was produced by the Grammy award winning Jacknife Lee (U2, REM, Taylor Swift, Snow Patrol, The Killers), who on working with James for the first time, has ensured a new texture to their sound.
If you are new to James or worried that a band of this longevity would have anything new to say, the only option is to put on your headphones and grab your tissues because All the Colours Of You is a technicoloured apex in the band’s discography.