Release Date: Sep 16, 2014
Record label: BMG Rights Management
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock
With a veteran group like James, it can be easy to praise them for merely outlasting many of their contemporaries as they diligently issue another solid late-career album. Such is the fate of many rock stalwarts in the eyes of the press and public. But 30 years on from their humble beginnings in early-'80s Manchester, James have aged gracefully, staring down their own mortality (both as a band and as individuals) with aplomb on their powerful 13th album, La Petite Mort (The Little Death).
Since 1986, Manchester’s darlings James have notched up 12 studio albums – not bad considering a five year hiatus that ended with a welcome return in 2007. ‘The Little Death’ – the literal translation of the 13th release – is actually an idiom for any kind of release in fact, with ejaculations referred to in this way more than anything else. But the overall theme is indeed one of death, as Booth attempted to come to terms with the passing of both his mother and a dear friend that introduced him to his wife.
"Everything old is new again," as the saying goes. This applies as much to '90s Britpop groups as it does to anything else. Pulp reunited, Suede released a comeback record (which is arguably better than David Bowie's of the same year), and Blur played Coachella alongside The Stone Roses. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that La Petite Mort, a new record by James, has entered the fray in 2014.
James were once very serious about being original. In the liner notes for the Mancunian band’s 1998 compilation James: The Best of, lead singer Tim Booth said of any song they wrote together in the early days, “If it sounded like any other band we’d throw it out.” Since those early days, James has honed a style that sounds like no one else. With Booth’s soaring voice, big clean guitars, trumpet, violin and vast songs with choruses wide enough to be heard from space, how could they sound like anyone else? And to put another rhetorical question to you, how long can a band like James get away with sounding Jamesque? La Petite Mort, the band’s first album in four years, is about death.