Jun 04, 2021
By Matt the Raven
James have done it again! Like they have so many times throughout their career, these maverick, British alt rockers have refreshed and expanded on their already alluring sound. It may not qualify as a re-invention, but it is definitely another transformation. It’s not surprising though, as James have always looked to push the envelope and explore new directions regardless of genre, as long as the outcome is great music. And All the Colours of You, James’ sixteenth studio album, certainly meets that criteria.
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.
Whether it’s a slick, grooving bass boom added at just the right moment, a shrewd cadence modulation that bridges to a soaring pop hook, or a reverberating guitar consonance, James achieve the perfect balance between the dynamic and the ethereal. In addition to the title track, standout songs such as “Recover,” “Wherever It Takes Us,” and “Isabella” are built to wow live audiences and encourage sing-alongs the way “Many Faces” did on their last tour. The album is not without its hiccups, however, as second single “Beautiful Beaches” comes across as a second-rate Coldplay mockup and the slow burning “Miss America” misses the mark entirely.
Overall, All the Colours of You is a super satisfying musical experience that solidifies an illustrious 35-year career, proving James have overcome a boring and unGoogleable name by being unpredictable, daring, and bold and making a distinctive brand of creative rock music with rich textures and shrewd melodies. (www.wearejames.com)
Author rating: 8/10
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