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James - Girl At The End Of The World (Album Review)

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 Written by Graeme Marsh

“Bands talk about that difficult second album but it’s the trickster 14th one that’s the real motherfucker,” frontman Tim Booth said of the new James’ LP, ‘Girl At The End Of The World’. But with number 13, ‘La Petite Mort’, not even two years old, their ability to produce another collection so soon would suggest otherwise.

Over 30 years into their career, it’s inevitable that the Manchester septet will re-tread old ground from time to time and those familiar, trusted underlying chord sequences pop up again. Nothing But Love resembles Ring The Bells from 1992’s ‘Seven’, probably their greatest album, while the enjoyable title track wind-down is also reminiscent of old, bearing similarities to She’s A Star in places. Despite these occasional glimpses of the past though, elsewhere there is a freshness that displays their continuing relevance.

Recent gig opener Bitch also gets things underway here, beginning with a spine-tingling, Krautrock beat-driven instrumental passage that stands as a career highlight. Booth’s disdainful lyricism then appears, alongside invigorating swirling synths.

Despite some ropey lyrics, where Booth tells us he wrote the song to say he’s leaving, which is “better than a letter a text or an email”, the well-worn subject of Dear John is warming amid bubbly electronica.

Alvin nods to the late Mr Stardust with a bouncy, fun glam-rock effort, but Attention is a showstopper that begins as a gentle piano line before picking up momentum and exploding into a typically euphoric peak. Surfer’s Song also approaches the enthusiastic, feel-good vibe James have built their strong fanbase upon, as does the techno-tinged Catapult.

It’s questionable whether James have ever released an album that consistently reaches the glorious highs they are capable of hitting in their outstanding live performances, but ‘Girl At The End Of The World’ manages to sound creatively familiar yet still different enough to wholly justify their ongoing studio presence.

There’s little doubt that the ecstatic emotions conjured in a live setting will seep into these tunes and as bassist Jim Glennie says, “the essence of James is live. I can’t wait for us to get our hands on these songs in front of the best audience a band can have”. For the majority of these new songs, the feeling is likely to be vehemently reciprocated.

James Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon May 02 2016 - BRISTOL Colston Hall
Tue May 03 2016 - SOUTHEND Cliffs pavillion
Wed May 04 2016 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Fri May 06 2016 - LONDON O2 Forum
Sat May 07 2016 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Mon May 09 2016 - NORWICH UEA
Tue May 10 2016 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Thu May 12 2016 - LLANDUDNO Venue Cymru Arena
Fri May 13 2016 - MANCHESTER Arena
Sat May 14 2016 - LEEDS first direct Arena
Mon May 16 2016 - HULL City Hall
Tue May 17 2016 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE City Hall
Thu May 19 2016 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Fri May 20 2016 - BIRMINGHAM Barclaycard Arena
Sat May 21 2016 - NOTTINGHAM Royal Concert Hall

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