“We’re all gonna die,” croons Tim Booth on James’ 16th album, but he’s never one to wallow. Instead, we get a melting pot, occasionally flirting with the genius of James of old, like the energetic Isabella and fast-paced, optimistic Beautiful Beaches.
Sadly though, ideas seem half-realised, like the forgettable Hush and cringe-worthy Magic Bus. Themes of lockdown alienation run throughout, especially on the title track and whilst Tim’s earned his elder statesman status, lyrics can feel just a little like newspaper headlines, covering topics like BLM and gun control without any real insight or wisdom. Ironically, it’s Wherever It Takes Us which is the highlight; both sonically speaking and for Booth’s likeable rapping, but where it takes James is harder to envision.3/5 (60%)
NARC | Paul Broadhead