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.
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”.