On their 16th album, James face down the challenges of longevity assuredly. Bands don’t often produce their most engaged work four decades in, but All The Colours … looks to James’ past only to channel their founding exploratory impetus into exultant, reflective and wide-ranging new shapes.
Begun before the pandemic and completed during lockdown with producer Jacknife Lee, the album grapples with Covid-19, climate change, American injustice and more. And yet it foregrounds themes of unity and release with care, urgency and soft psychedelic colours: without downplaying its themes, All The Colours … unifies James’ fringe credentials and capacity for festival-sized catharsis.
James’ arsenal of unifying song is rousingly expanded for the occasion here. Both an album for today and a testimony to their formative drive, it silences any fear that James might be losing altitude. They have earned the right to bask in past glories, but James still have things to say and the momentum needed to put them across. ‘:Jump the fence,” sings Booth, recalling 1992’s (“Break down the … “) Government Walls as XYST closes the album with another stinging attack on divisiveness. As James know, this is no time for sitting down on the job.4/5 (80%)
Record Collector | Kevin Harley