Living in Extraordinary Times by James
Speaking of bands past their prime still producing good music, here comes Manchester, England band James. I loved James in the mid-90s. Their Brian Eno-produced albums Laid and Wah Wah hold a special place in my heart, and I still listen to those albums once every couple of years, 25 long years after their release. I stuck with them for a few more Eno-produced albums, severing my ties with the band myself when they broke up soon after releasing 2001’s Pleased to Meet You.
Reading up on them for this post, it appears they regrouped with the same lineup just over 10 years ago, and have released six albums in that time, culminating in this beautiful album, Living in Extraordinary Times. Tim Booth, the band’s frontman, has a dynamic, often falsetto voice that makes you want to stand up and pump your fist. This new album, their 15th, has all the same things college-age Royal loved: fantastic production, huge crescendos, anthemic choruses. The song featured above, “Coming Home (Pt. 2),” is a good example. (That song, incidentally, is a sequel of one of the band’s early hits (“Come Home”) but do yourself a favor and do NOT seek out that song.)
This album is smarter and more layered than the band was when I was in college. Deep horns, multiple percussion players and orchestration all with Booth’s singsongy voice flying over the top of it. The band also differs in look, 25 years on. They’ve definitely aged, and Booth’s mop of hair has transitioned from his head (now bald) to his chin (now unfortunately goateed). It’s easy to picture the band as young men when listening to the album. If you remember James from the 90s, I recommend doing yourself a favor and giving this one a go. You may surprise yourself.
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