Other curveballs are thrown, with the electronic beats of Wherever it Takes Us possibly the best of that particular bunch with its LCD Soundsystem-like intro. Its verses are somewhat uninspiring but the chorus sticks like super glue. Contrastingly, the jangly guitars that are another band trait rarely appear aside from the motorik Isabella.
James also have a noted ability to churn out less propulsive but deeply resonant moments that encourage a sea of cigarette lighters. Duly, three tracks plough a similar field (Recover, Miss America and Xyst) and recall ‘Laid’ classic Out To Get You in either melody, structure or overall staging. Miss America, though, perhaps offers the most compelling lyrical content as Booth sings of the “love of guns” and “man with the tan” that we associate with our American friends.
‘All The Colours of You’ seems to have reversed a slide that pointed to James petering out in unspectacular fashion. Almost 40 years and 16 albums into their career, then, Booth and team are still relevant, still mesmerising and still euphoric…some of the time at least.3.5/5
How do you feel that you have already sold 60,000 + tickets for your upcoming tour later this year?
It all sounds a bit unbelievable, it’s like I can’t emotionally connect with any of this yet. Because it all feels like it might be taken away from me, so even though I know on paper that I am busy, it all feels so fragile at the moment. It’s hard to emotionally connect and invest myself, so it’s just an idea at the moment. Yes, it’s far enough away that it would take something pretty disastrous to happen to change it, but we’ve had pretty disastrous happen, haven’t we? So, I can’t’ because it still just feels so detached. I know on paper it sounds amazing, ridiculous; the tickets sold like nobody’s business. I think again because people are thinking: ‘Oh by then we’ll be back to normal, and we can go and celebrate and have a proper gig and it’ll be amazing’ and all the rest of it. So, the tickets just flew out the door. I think people genuinely are looking for that, even though it’s a long way away, that thing to head towards and sort of move towards, that positivity you know? God willing, we get there and it’s amazing, and it will be. I mean 60,000 is ridiculous. I have a sneaky feeling that if everything’s cool, we’ll add more shows on and just be busier.
Which song did you enjoy working on the most for your new album?
I [Jim Glennie] think ‘All The Colours Of You’ was a big one for me, because I worked on that with my brother Peter when we were working on the demos remotely. I’ve never worked with him musically before. So, me and him were kind of doing stuff remotely on that, and that came in quite late in the day. No one had looked at it, it had kind of been missed in the grand scheme of things. So, we pieced together a demo and it was just great. It got lots of favour and was instantly voted onto the leader board. So, a lot of personal satisfaction comes from that! I mean it’s easy to miss things, not everything we do gets worked on and stuff can go under the radar and it’s just a matter of the individual’s personal opinion whether something needs to be worked on or not. So, people pick up on what they’re attracted to from the jam, and stuff just doesn’t get worked on or missed. That’s the way it is. And with ‘All The Colours Of You’, it was very last minute. It was: ‘Oh, well I’ve got this one!’ and ‘Oh, okay great!’ We knocked something up and it was great. It changed a lot as Jacknife worked on it, but no that was quite exciting.
The nine-piece band, whose lead singer Tim Booth is from Yorkshire, recently stayed at Broughton Hall to meet up for rehearsals for their forthcoming live tour. While at the venue, they made use of the lavish surroundings to film their first full-band video since 1999 for song Getting Myself Into which features on new album All the Colours of You.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post recently, Booth explained that a chance meeting while he and his wife were spending time in Central America led to the band staying at Broughton Hall. Booth and his wife made friends out there with Broughton Hall’s owner Roger Tempest and his partner Paris Ackrill.
“They asked where would we be going when we were in the UK and I said we are going to rehearse in some crappy studio in London,” he said. “Roger said come to my house and it happened to be a rather large manor house outside of Skipton. We were blown away by their generosity. It was an amazing return for us as James and it was so joyful. We were playing in these incredible rooms on a carpet that had been donated to the family by Marie Antoinette and with pictures of relatives on every wall space looking down on us as if to say ‘What have you let these riff-raff in here for?’ We had a blast and did lots of filming. The video was really easy to make.”
“I’ve been a fan of them since, God, the early ’90s,” laughed [Virgin Music Label & Artists Services MD Jim] Chancellor. “We’d tried to work with them in the past actually and never quite managed to get the deal to work ,or things to align. But this time there was something magical about it.”
“They have a drive to better themselves every single time and that’s quite a rarity these days, especially when you’ve got a decent fanbase and you could quite easily just knock the old big tunes out and then take a bow. But they’ve still got the hunger.”
“We’re very bullish, we’ve been reaching for the stars in going to places the band had never been, which is Radio 2, from a radio perspective, and looking to grow their socials and streaming [numbers], everything really. One goal was to try and get them a bit more fixed on the radio in the UK, and we’ve ticked those boxes.”
“They’ve always been a brilliant, brilliant live band,” said Chancellor. “But there’s normally a moment in a band’s career where it all comes together beautifully, then you get that bigger explosion and off they go again. That’s where it feels like it is for James – there’s a renewed vigour, a renewed excitement in them. And that’s what we saw in the demos.”
With their new album ‘All The Colours Of You‘, Manchester indie-rockers James capture us once more. The record showcases the group’s unfailing commitment to songwriting and hooks us from the start.
Tim also delivers one of the most riveting vocal performances to hit the indie chart in recent memory. Similarly, the variety of sounds on show produces a soundscape unlike any other.
Overall, ‘All The Colours Of You‘ is a tremendous indie summertime listen. It also demonstrates that the group is still as popular as they were decades ago.5/5
Two things have remained consistent throughout the band’s history: Tim Booth’s distinctive voice and songs with lyrical depth, which you’ll find in great supply in these songs.
All the Colours of You is James’ latest album, and it shows the band continuing with a more layered and experimental sound, to the point that it’s hard to know where you would file this album in a record store. If a group only has a matter of seconds to catch the listener’s attention, then you can say James accomplished that particular mission. The first lyrics to the opening song “Zero” are “We’re all gonna die. That’s the truth.”
Ultimately, the song’s message is that we’re all going to die, which is why you shouldn’t live unfulfilled. The melody is a swirl of guitar, piano, and strings. While the lyrics are thought-provoking, this song could be condensed from its duration of nearly six minutes. Also, for a song with such a hopeful message, it doesn’t come across as particularly joyful.
In the 1990s, the band recorded Wah Wah, a free-form album produced by Brian Eno. It was something different for James, but they’re still recording in that same spirit. “Wherever It Takes Us” is a good example of this. The melody is unpredictable. The verses’ lyrics are spoken and come across as something you might hear at a poetry reading. The chorus’ lyrics are sung like a church choir to add to the unpredictability.
All the Colours of You is a complex album. While its part pop and part rock, ultimately, it isn’t easy to classify. Some of the songs would fit well in the soundtrack of a film adaptation of an Irvine Welsh novel. Other songs would fit better in the soundtrack of a coming-of-age film. Still, for all its complexity, there’s no song you find yourself singing after you’ve listened to the album a couple of times.6/10
Jacknife Lee’s sleek burnishing and mild deconstruction, nodding to dance music and current pop, helps James still sound big if not exactly contemporary. If some subtlety is sacrificed in still reaching for pop’s brass ring, and the curiosity and craft isn’t always inspired, this is another honourable chapter in an enduring career.3/5
It’s the alt-rock chart battle if not of all time then at least of all second Fridays in June. This week, indie legends James, fielding their 16th album ‘All The Colours Of You’, face off against future rock titans Wolf Alice and their critical smash ‘Blue Weekend’ in the most nail-biting race for the top since The Snuts vs. Dry Cleaning a couple of weeks ago.
Both acts have repeatedly stalled at Number Two, denied their moments of chart-topping glory by goal hangers such as Adele and Shania Twain, so passions are high. By rights, their interviews should be alight with pre-bout disses and burns flying between the two camps like the inhabitants of Northern Ireland discussing the benefits of Brexit. “I’ve had ayahuasca comedowns more enjoyable than this shit!”, perhaps, or: “Sit down… at least five positions below us!”
Instead: reserved, respectful silence. You’d barely know there was anything exciting happening at all. Because, somewhere over the past 10 years or so, we’ve forgotten the fine art of the indie beef.
Musically, the mood of All the Colours of You is decidedly more upbeat than the intimidating, thwacking rock of 2018’s Living in Extraordinary Times, but the lyrics contain just as much venom. Pontificating about climate change, COVID, and politics, frontman Tim Booth provides his usual stinging commentary only this time around it’s wrapped in the band’s majestic amalgamation of anthemic stadium rock and alternative pop hooks. The inclusion of syncopated bass lines, electronic beats, and swirling sound effects create a sound that is both refreshingly unfamiliar yet fabulously James.8/10
[James] A band who, perhaps better than any other, are capable of providing hope for the hopeless, light in the darkest of days and an embrace for the broken and lonely. Forever moving forward and always holding out a hand for us to cling to as they do. Not a band concerned with capturing the zeitgeist but, instead, a band who see, clearly, what matters most when other artists are blinded by what matters only to them.
Always, with James, we hear hymns from the village. The village of our own hearts and souls. The village of dreams and faith. The village of hope and belief. The choir sings, the congregation is united and, by the end, we are all lifted up, lifted higher.
With “All the Colours Of You” they have managed something unimaginable, something incredible…their best ever album. Oh, I know…I can hear you now. “What about…”. Well, what about it?
“All the Colours of You” may help to fix you, may bring energy to your weary bones and soul, may offer solace and consolation, may bring some strange companionship and will, no maybe, remind you that you are not alone.
Though Booth is at pains to avoid painting All the Colours… as a political record, it’s nonetheless an unflinching reflection of the world in 2021. State-of-the-States lament “Miss America” attacks the USA’s inherent historic racism and “love of guns”. The brutal and cinematic “Wherever it Takes Us”, inspired by the Portland protests, follows an injured, tear-gassed protester transcending into a digital multiverse afterlife of pure data. And if their previous album was something of a lament for truth, democracy and humanity in an era with “white fascists in the White House”, the new album’s title track reads today like the door hitting the former president’s backside on the way out, likening Covid quarantine with being trapped in Trump’s “dis-United States” and declaring “he’s the Ku Klux Klan, coup-coup, coup-coup”.
Epic, prescient themes – viral extremism, BLM, climate change and Covid – are personalised throughout the record. Some lyrics are giddy — on the title-track, the KKK are delightfully rhymed with and summarily dismissed as cuckoo [sic] and ‘Miss America’ is ardent — but James have long possessed an expert ability to create mass euphoria.