James have come a long way since their first documented live appearance supporting Big Country at the Hacienda on 17th November 1982 because this month sees the release of their sixteenth studio album, All The Colour Of You. Recorded partly before the pandemic struck and produced by Jacknife Lee, front man Tim Booth’s neighbour in Topanga Canyon in California, this eleven track album may just be the best in the band’s thirty-eight year history.

Showcasing the bands own take on the state of the world, covering the likes of the global pandemic, politics, climate change and race relations, opener Zero is about how we should all live life for the moment. With its very sobering lyrics, a surge of surrealist electro-synth with choral harmonies, it sets the bench mark for the rest of the album.

The title track All The Colours Of You was the first single to be released from the album and has an 80’s electronic sound. Having lived in America for many years, Booth provides his take on the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Trump administration and the civil unrest during this time. His emotionally charged vocals lift this track and the band simply crackle with electricity.

Recover is a very personal and poignant song; a touching tribute to Booth’s father-in-law who lost his life to Covid-19 last year. It is a beautiful song that showcases Booth’s song writing prowess and tackles emotions that will resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one. With its beautiful lyrics juxtaposed by dance grooves behind them, this track makes for a memorable tune which is without doubt one of the album’s highlights.

Second single Beautiful Beaches is surprisingly up tempo with lyrics written by Booth after the regular Californian fires swept through his community. It is the perfect summer holiday song with its upbeat rhythm and anthemic chorus.

Wherever It Takes Us brings a fresh, inventive and essentially positive air to the album, and along with Isabella are built to wow live audiences and encourage sing-alongs. Miss America looks at America’s damaged image using the illustrations of beauty pageants and Magic Bus is a pumping club track. Closing track XYST ends the album with guitars leading in giving the feeling of an REM track before an electric drum sound and a slow vocal delivery from Booth.

This album enhances James’ legacy as one of the country’s many iconic bands with its inclusion of syncopated bass lines, electronic beats and swirling sound effects which all serve to create a sound that is both refreshingly unfamiliar yet fabulously James. An album recorded during such an eventful period in our lives was always going to be thought provoking and All The Colours Of You is exactly that.

Our Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Number of tracks: 11

Running time: 49:15

Released on: Nothing But Love Music

Release date: 4th June 2021

Formats: Streaming/MP3/CD/Vinyl

To purchase: https://james.tmstor.es/