cementing them as still an important part of the pop furniture...
James Dannatt

12:07 25th April 2008

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When you think of James, the inevitable recollection of hearing the anthemic chants of ‘Sit down’ are synonymous and nostalgic of early 90s pop in general. However, it is a long time since 1991 and now in 2008, after a break of seven years, Tim Booth and his entourage release their tenth studio album ‘Hey Ma’. Typically playful lyrics and soft assuring melodies that unify the rationality of colourful pop and an underlying of ominous marvel make headway through this collection of transparent stylish songs.

Opening track ‘Bubbles’ echoes the perfect sentiment of the bands reformation with a patient ascent from delicate sensibility into a far greater banquet of fresh coalesced energy. “It don’t take your phone company to tell you life’s pay as you go,” exclaims Booth on the mischievous ‘Waterfall’, which stands apart through it’s powerfully repeated chorus, that will have fans in further harmonic unison for years to come. 

The juxtaposition of the lively rhythm in the title track and its lyrics, which include the striking chorus “Hey Ma, the boys in the body bags,” and “Now the towers have fallen/so much dust in the air,” appear merely innocuous and teasing rather then something defiant from the words of an anti war speech. Lyrical poignancy is emphasised with magnetic imagery on tracks such as ‘Of Monsters And Heroes And Men’ and ‘Upside Down’. ‘Oh My Heart’ screams U2 with the effortless riff and Bono-esque wail of the track’s title, while the raw power of ‘72’ screeches with exuberance.

Anyone who enjoys Embrace’s carefree ease, the Dove’s affection and the intelligent sharpness of Brtitsh Sea Power will undoubtedly take pleasure from the 11 tracks that make up ‘Hey Ma’, and anyone who has been a fan of James in the past can be reassured that there are no drastic changes to the bands sound that brought so much success in the 90s.

There is something that goes beyond the mechanics of fascinating that perhaps rekindles the longing of childhood dreams that seems set to tantalise a younger generation. With so many bands making comebacks and triumphant ones at that, there are few that have provided the relevant album. James may have just done that with ‘Hey Ma’, cementing them as still an important part of the pop furniture.

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