For a brief moment, it looked as though James might finally break their chart hoodoo.
The release earlier this year of Girl At The End of The World looked as though it might finally give them their first number one (greatest hits aside) after 34 years together.
Having been pipped at the post with Gold Mother, Seven and Millionaires and reached number three with 1993’s mercurial Laid, they were briefly on course to reach number one.
It was ahead of Adele’s album 25 during the midweek chart, only to be pipped at the post following a late surge in sales.
Not that the band minded. They are just thrilled to be back in a rich vein of form following the release of their exceptional 2014 album La Petite Mort and this year’s number two hit.
They’re playing the biggest venues of their career and will headline Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena tonight.
Saul Davies, guitarist, violinist and percussionist, says: “We might be one of the luckiest bands in the UK.
“So many of our peers have dwindled and 34 years of a band making records and doing great gigs is quite unusual.
“People take that for granted and even we do as a band. Maybe that’s right that we just get on with it and don’t think about it too much.
“But nevertheless we’re in some exalted company of bands that have been around that long and still make records. We’re putting more tickets on sale for this tour in May than we’ve done for any other UK tour in 25 years.
“We’re not sliding away. It’s the opposite if anything and it’s a very interesting phenomenon. I don’t know what we’ve done to make that happen.
“We’re a band that you either get or you don’t and the people who have got us have stayed with us. That is quite a remarkable thing as a lot of bands gradually lose people.” The band now live in different parts of the world and connect electronically. They then meet to spend time together in recording studios, where they create new music.
The Girl At The End of the World was recorded with long-time collaborator Brian Eno and producer Max Dingel, who has previously worked with The Killers, Muse and White Lies.
Saul adds: “It felt natural. We knew his working methods and he knew ours so it made it easier.
“Those who are familiar with our last record will find some similarities but this is more of a pop album. La Petite Mort was darker in many ways and I think this shows another side of us. I’m quite looking forward to people hearing it and seeing what their reaction to it is.
“We felt that we’d gathered some momentum after La Petite Mort so it felt sensible not to leave it too late.”
The record was recorded in Norther Scotland.
Fans at their Birmingham show can look forward to hearing new tunes as well as a selection of hits from their impressive back catalogue. Saul, who lives in the Scottish Highlands, adds: “We have a big bag of tunes. I think we had 17 top hits and that’s pretty healthy. We don’t play all of them and I think our audience would be annoyed if we did.
“We’ve made our way through our career and through the industry by being a little bit difficult.
“There are some big arenas we’re playing and there will be many people who have come to hear the new record.
“It’s amazing that we’ve managed to create that bond with the audience.
“We look forward with a great deal of anticipation to being on stage as I genuinely think we are a much better live band than we’ve ever been.”