The band may be Britpop at heart, but liberal use of synth often places them in similar territory to New Order or latter-day Coldplay, as heard on the title track – a view of Trump’s “disunited States” from lockdown – and the exuberant Beautiful Beaches, which celebrates finally getting out of Dodge or Kansas.3.5/5
All The Colours Of You is … full of stirring anthems that you can imagine being belted out in the arenas of the country. Unlike many of their contemporaries though, there’s a freshness about the album, together with a few surprises.
Wherever It Takes Us harks back to the band’s experimental album with Brian Eno, Wah Wah, full of odd little ambient noises, a near spoken word vocal from Booth and some choral vocals for the uplifting chorus. It’s moments like this that All The Colours Of You really hits its mark – mixing James’ more accessible side with the experimentation that they’ve always been interested in.
Even at its most introspective, All The Colours Of You is an often invigorating return from a band who, despite their veteran status, still have their collective finger on the pulse.3.5/5 (70%)
Covering everything from world politics to climate change and the ongoing global pandemic, the seminal Manchester groups sixteenth studio album is, without doubt, one of their best.
Working remotely on the album from his Topanga Canyon Studio in Los Angeles with neighbouring frontman Booth, the pair collaborated virtually with bassist Jim Glennie to reassemble demos created back in 2019.
The resulting product is a collection of festival-ready anthems, boasting a refreshed and energetic sound the likes of which fans of James will have never heard before. An ambitious body of work, tackling themes of politics, the imminent global climate disaster, and life and death, with an accomplished sound to boot – All The Colours Of You is a perfectly timed release that’s set to resonate with huge audiences at live events throughout the summer.
James’ 16th studio album ‘All The Colours of You’ is like a piece of artwork in audible form.
Each song on the album is unique, from the storytelling to the accumulation of instruments; every part of each song is like the brushstroke of a painting, each layer added creating a fantastic outcome, with lead singer Tim Booth even reiterating this himself with the belief ‘We think we’ve made a masterpiece.’
Since their debut with ‘Sit Down’ in 1991, James have shown that they are not one to sound similar to anyone else. With a band that have been going for so long, it would be understandable that their music would begin to sound the same as their last release. However, ‘All The Colours of You’ has proved that they do not fit this mould. Discussing the immortality of James, Booth expresses ‘The truth is we felt we were built to last’ . James’ latest album proved they were built more to last but were built to grow and evolve. The exploration of sound and lyricism on this record is unbelievable- it leaves the listener in awe of where each song is to take you.
For a band that have been around for almost four decades, there seems to be no slowing down in terms of their popularity and the stories they have to tell, as ‘All The Colours of You’ demonstrates.
Positive change is something very much on the band’s mind; Jim mentioned that he’d spent the day sorting out potential festival dates. Touring has always been a key part of the band’s ethos: he tells me that the Stone Roses, Nirvana, and Coldplay have all opened for them in the past. “We’re renowned for having support bands that then go on to be much bigger than us!” he says. Jim tells me about the unique challenges they faced while on Neil Young’s Harvest Moon tour. “He was playing an acoustic tour”, he says. “So he said, ‘if you can play acoustically, you can come and do this tour.’ So we said, ‘Oh yeah! Great!’ And then of course we didn’t really know how to do it.” The massive crowds didn’t help the band’s nerves. “The first gig was at Red Rocks in Colorado, to 30,000 people – we were terrified! We had no gear! Normally we’ve got these huge, big amps, and you can hide behind the volume.” Despite their struggle with the acoustic setup, he describes the tour as ‘amazing’. “[The crowds] loved us. They absolutely loved us. And he [Young] treated us so well.”
“We think we’ve made one of the best records we’ve ever made – easily, actually,” Tim said. “And we’re thrilled. We’ve been releasing it drip by drip to tease and to excite and to show a new sound. It’s wonderful.”
Click the link below to watch the session.
Despite it being recorded, deconstructed and reassembled remotely, James have succeeded in delivering a solid album that reflects the talents of each member and it’s as astonishing as ever that a band with such longevity have been able to avoid nostalgia at all costs, continually experimenting with their sound and always challenging both themselves and their fans.8/10 (80%)
When asked what it was like to work with esteemed producer Jacknife Lee (U2, The Killers, Snow Patrol), Tim said it was “wonderful” and revealed that he unknowingly saved Jacknife’s family from a rattlesnake.
“[Jacknife (Lee] lived two miles from me in Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles, which is this wild canyon with no streetlights and windy hills. I went to visit him, and we got on instantly brilliantly. He’s really sharp, playful, creative and funny.”
Tim continued: “I left his house at 8.30 driving back to the winding canyon, pitch black roads and two women flagged me down. I pulled over and they said ‘there’s rattlesnake on the road and we can’t get past it, and we have a dog with us and we’re scared for the dog. And I said, ‘jump in’ and I drove a mile back up the canyon and they Jacknife’s wife and daughter. I think we looked at each other and went, ‘Okay!’ It was a joy working with him.”
Danielle asked Tim if he had missed being on the road over the past 15 months.
“No, it’s been about right,” Tim said. “We needed time out, I think. The only thing I’m still a bit scared of is, I didn’t maintain my voice. You know you can’t sing like you sing when you sing live, so I’m reclaiming my voice at the moment. I have a wide range for octaves but that doesn’t mean they’re very good octaves, but I have four octaves.”
“My voice is naturally dropping as I passed my teenage years so I should have worked a little harder at maintaining my voice and now I’m having to catch up.”
“We’re really looking forward to these first shows back because I think they’re going to be quite explosive for people, and also negotiating the fear of like, ‘oh, people – people without masks.’ You can feel that everywhere (but) we’re really looking forward to it now.”
Click the link below to watch the interview.
“James have always been mavericks,” said Plant. “They’ve always insisted on beating to their own drum and their refusal to play the game has probably cost them greater commercial success at certain points in their career. But that’s also been key to their appeal and longevity.”
“This record has obviously been recorded in an incredibly strange and unexpected time. And I hope from that they’ve developed not only a positive association with Jackknife Lee, but also a completely different way of working – a virtual collaboration. They’ve found it incredibly invigorating actually, and are hugely surprised and proud of the result.”
‘All The Colours Of You’ – the sixteenth studio album from Mancunian legends James – might just be their strongest offering to date from the band’s 38 year history.
Whilst there are still shades of James’ jangly indie-pop in parts, this album takes the band into a new sonic adventure where you hear lo-if leanings and pumping club beats.8/10
There is a song on the new James album that is unbearably sad. Recover is a track about singer Tim Booth’s father-in-law dying in the first wave of Covid-19. One verse documents his rapid deterioration: in a few lines 84 year-old Saville goes from having a sore throat to being on a ventilator. Despite the peppering of hope throughout the song, he never recovers. It’s a harrowing listen…. (subscription)
Many musicians have shied away from talking about the Big C, for fear of what – losing timelessness? Feeling too obvious? Well, All The Colours Of You deals with COVID sharply, starkly, and unapologetically, proving that sometimes what seems obvious is necessary. The title track singes through lyrics about quarantine, the Ku Klux Klan, being caged, literally and metaphorically – but it doesn’t feel rushed or unimaginative. James are so seasoned by now that All The Colours Of You already, somehow, feels like a far off legacy of the time it was written in, unearthing the past in synthy grandeur and swelling power to tell its tales.
James have excellently blended their aptitude for writing bangers that shoot straight to iconic status with the moral need of bands to observe and reflect the world around us. It would be easy to say it feels effortless – James certainly have the prowess to nail it, and they have done, but every part of All The Colours Of You doesn’t feel effortless, it feels carefully considered and meticulously put together. James are world-class stalwarts of the indie scene, and on All The Colours Of You they prove why they have remained so since their conception as a band – they’re responsive. James consistently create top-quality music, but they keep growing in necessity and sensitivity.8.5/10 (85%)