Like The Smiths, Oasis and The Stone Roses, in their home city of Manchester, James are untouchable. James, like these three legends, have also had their fair share of inner turmoil, but since their 2007 reunion they have been one of the more prolific bands with 5 albums in 8 years. ‘Girl At The End of the World’ is their 14th album and is a refreshingly warm and touching addition.
Tim Booth’s vocals sound as impressive as ever, his voice is so welcoming that lines like “Were you just born an asshole?” from ‘To My Surprise’ are sung with grace rather than anger. ‘Nothing But Love’ is a single fellow Mancunians Elbow would have wished they’d written. You can picture the swaying of hands at gigs as the heartwarming and triumphant “ah-ooh” harmonies ring out.
The overall feeling from the album is one of optimism. ‘Attention’ has a sense of adventure about it, ‘Feet of Clay’ wraps itself around the listener like a soothing lullaby and ‘Surfer’s Song’ features the prominent synthesisers quite literally replicating crashing waves. At this point James have joined this expanding list of bands who have got over their problems that stopped them in their tracks a decade or so ago, and have learned to enjoy living in the moment.
If you’re taken aback by the use of synths in every track, that’s probably more down to producer Max Dingel. Known for his work with The Killers, Dingel and Brian Eno’s influence are particularly strong in ‘Surfer’s Song’. The beauty of the electronic textures is that they swim around the songs, deliciously complimenting Tim Booth’s flawless voice without being overbearing.
The album starts to lag on the last 2 or 3 songs but the title track manages to conjure a memorable lyric in “remind me to breathe at the end of the world”, and whenever James get to that point, they’ll go out smiling.
‘Girl At The End of the World’ is out now via BMG.
This James article was written by Daniel Luscombe, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Samantha Melrose.