(Planet Me)
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
JAMES Girl at the End of the World

It's a long way since the band were indie darlings, and a long time. The band they were then has evolved, moved on. The old ways – an indie quartet of spiky and limited appeal – has long been superceded by their 'classic' lineup. After twenty something years, in 1999, James hit their niche, and one they haven't really moved beyond over time, that of a an anthemic, tasteful, visionary act, searching for a modern equivalent of what Mike Scott called 'The Big Music'.

Unlike some of their peers, James feel like a vibrant, creative entity. A band not made of Frankenplayers, but of the original 'classic' lineup, near enough the same one that ruled the world in the summer of 1991, and one slowly evolving over time. With the core template of their current musical direction set in the late 90's, the band rise on a known side. What's to say that hasn't already been said? At every step, the band are striving, reaching, hoping, grasping for more, more, more, reaching for the stars, hoping. It's in every second – the way the notes rise, the rhythms move on, the whole damn thing. With a divine optimism. And whilst the sound hasn't changed, the core has, there's a reaching, a hope. But no big songs ; all of these are intimate in some way, but also somehow yearning to bridge the gap between humans ; from “To My Surprise” and “Nothing But Love”, which may not break any new ground, but which confirm, and consolidate the bands previous work. It's More Of The Same, but my God, what a Same it is.

Truth be told, it's only by the time I get to track 9 (“Move Down South”) that I consider even skipping to the next song. But every album has to have its weak link. Perhaps its greatest weakness, if it has any, is that as an album, it lacks tenderness, and intimiacy. Everything is covered in the huge and wonderful textures that only James do, the delicate tightrope between not quite enough... and too much.

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