James – Living in Extraordinary Times

James – Living in Extraordinary Times

There aren’t many people who haven’t heard of james. The legendary Manchester band have been on the indie scene since the early 80s after signing to the legendary Factory Records label; and their early 90s iconic tracks are still sing-a-long anthems and floor fillers to this day. Over the course of the last 4 decades, they have developed their sound, and each and every one of their 14 previous albums has been unique but yet clearly identifiable due to Tim Booth’s wonderfully distinct vocal.

Following the release of their recent Better than That EP, james are set to release their 15th studio album “Living In Extraordinary Times” on the 3rd August 2018. The 12 track album (with added bonus tracks depending on the version that you buy) has undoubtedly got that timeless james feel to it.

The first thing that actually stood out for me was the title of the record, I honestly feel that this year, in particular, has been an extraordinary year politically and personally. When asked about the album’s title Tim Booth said: “We knew something was up when Leicester city won the league then Brexit, then Trump. It’s as if we’d slipped into an alternate reality, a Philip K Dick reality. We are living in extraordinary times.” I think there are a lot of people who will relate to that.

The first three tracks of the album completely grab you, and there isn’t much turning back from that point. The album opens with the monstrous Hank, a track that featured on the Better Than That EP and to be honest is a dark and politically charged song aimed towards America, Tim Booth’s now home. For me, the driving horns and layers of pounding drums give it the wow factor that every record should launch with. Moving into Coming Home (pt.2) which for me is a lyrically driven emotional track based on missing critical points in your child’s life due to being a touring musician. Then into Leviathan which together with an almost New Order style of keyboard and again driving percussion and horns but the lyrical hook of “Fucking Love, before they drop the bomb, make sure we get enough” sticks with you.

When you listen to any record, I think you are always looking for that anthem. Indeed, as a DJ I still want to find that track that I know will hold a dance floor and also stand the test of time. When you look at previous tracks that james have done like Sit Down, Laid and Sometimes there was a distinct feel, the jangle pop anthem, the floor filler and roof-raiser. There are two tracks, Many Faces and Better than That which seem to have that feel, only time will tell regarding impact, but there is definitely something there for me. There is an almost Cure-like feel to Picture of this Place with elements of modern indie in a Foals type way thrown in for good measure with the occasional twinkly keyboards and effect driven guitars. This is possibly my favourite track on the album, it just captures me and keeps me there.

Aside from the political theme that flows throughout the album, and of course the unique vocal from Tim Booth there certainly seems to be a focus on Jim Glennie’s bass and David Baynton-Power’s drums on nearly all of the tracks. As with any james album, there are the huge hooks, the tracks with raw energy blended with the chilled tracks. It is an album that keeps you listening – you want to hear everything. There are elements on the record that take you back to the early 90s Manchester scene yet this is balanced with a production that you find with new indie artists. It is a record for now that I think will stand the test of time. This is without a doubt a james record, yet it feels angry, it feels frustrated, it feels like it is channelling their inner punk, quite simply it feels like a record for extraordinary times.

Living in Extraordinary Times will be available on CD, download, cassette and heavyweight double vinyl, plus a hardback booked deluxe CD featuring 4 extra tracks – three demos plus one track from the album sessions. HMV and independent stores will also stock a limited grey gatefold package featuring double magenta coloured vinyl.

Exclusive signed bundles and a limited yellow gatefold package featuring double white coloured vinyl are available via the artist store. Pre-order link: https://jamesofficial.lnk.to/LivingPR

James also have an arena tour with The Charlatans in December, but sadly aren’t playing Birmingham this time around.

Reviewer: Imran Khan

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