Post-hat James Bay has made an 'exquisitely produced, well-paced and shiny' new album
Andy Hill
10:07 17th May 2018

POP QUIZ: What do Slash, James Bay, and Daft Punk have in common? ANSWER: They’re all musicians who are basically unrecognizable without their hats on.

Sorry, I know it’s lame to bang on about it. But for this – the follow up to 2015's double-platinum-selling Chaos and the Calm – James Bay, the long-limbed troubadour behind that ‘Hold Back The River’ tune a few years back, has ditched his signature hat.

And changed up his style, from band-vibes strummer guy to pouting Drake/Prince-aping popstar. And cut his hair. Does any of that stuff matter?

Alas, I fear it does.

There’s nowt wrong with the songwriting on Electric Light. So long as you’re cool with the fact James Bay only ever sings about girls – girls he’s currently with, girls he’s been with, girls he imagines he’d probably like to be with given half a chance. And considering the glut of records this year that bang on about Trump, or lounge bar hotels on the fucking moon, that’s actually quite refreshing.

Like, christ on a bike, imagine being as sexy as James Bay. Look at him. Look at his sexy Twitter profile pic. Look at his even sexier Twitter header pic. I imagine every day for James Bay kicks off with a truckload of fan mail and a morning blowjob. Course he writes about girls. You would too.

Leaving aside the cringey and pointless ‘Intro’, opening track ‘Wasted On Each Other’ is a swampy, sexy, bluesy affair that showcases James Bay’s sharp-as-a-tack guitar stylings and peerless skill at pitching vocal woo. And he talks about Novocaine. In the chorus! It reminds me of Jack White, but a purer, more sanitised version. Jack-whiter-than-white.

After that, ‘Pink Lemonade’ is an undeniable banger, albeit suspiciously reaching for that glossy production thing that so many of his BRIT award-winning peers pay off their mortgages with. It’s great, honestly. No, really.

If I may address the gentlemen, for just a second: this is a record for putting on when you’re trying to impress your girlfriend. Even if she’s cool, and is into Radiohead or some shit. Imagine it’s her birthday, or she’s starting a new job tomorrow. You’ve run the hoover around. You’re cooking something semi-decent. Put some flowers in a jug. Maybe even had a shave. She’ll love this record. You might even get some.

She’ll be thinking about James Bay the whole time, but that’s fine because she probably is anyway.

I’m actually not being a dick. The production on ‘Wild Love’ is outstanding. It goes places. Sensuous places. Rag And Bone Man, with extra boning. ’Sugar Drunk High’ is sort of like that Ed Sheehan tune about going home to your old hood, but stacks more eloquent. “It’s a sentimental wasteland.” Yeah it is, you tell ‘em James Bay.

It’s all brilliantly sung, exquisitely produced, well-paced and shiny.

That said, and respectfully: if this album does as well commercially as it’s predecessor I’ll eat my hat.
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6/10

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