James – Yummy

An inspired, thought-provoking work...

James’ 18th studio album ‘Yummy’ does more than just whet the appetite, it’s an invariable feast for the senses. This is so much more than a mere amuse-bouche, ‘Yummy’ tantalises the musical taste buds on a myriad of levels.

Joyful and uplifting throughout, the band have cooked up twelve astute tracks that tackle all manner of themes that tackle everything from AI and ageism to mental life and mortality and everything in-between. Despite Tim Booth calling the lyrics ‘hard-nosed’, sonically it still feels celebratory and by the band’s own admission a ‘miracle’ that this album even happened.

The band are not strangers at delectable juxtapositions – being bold, but yet familiar, being progressive whilst not losing their comforting familiarity. ‘Yummy’ is quintessentially a James album where it hits you in the solar plexus, but it also makes you want to get up and dance.

‘Is This Love’ contemplates on the meaning of love, asking the age-old question ‘Is this love?’ and if our perception of love is “shaped by a screen / Films that you’ve seen…” Lush, multi-layered and anthemic, ‘Is This Love’, is set to be an absolute James classic with its sweeping strings and rousing synths.

The romance continues with the beautiful ‘Better With You’, where the analogy of two streams flowing into the river are likened to two souls colliding and no matter what happens (even if the planet implodes) as long as you are with the right person, everything will be OK. Love is the answer and it’s the only ingredient we need with the optimistic lyrics “we’ll both be on that flight, drinking the Northern lights as the planet re-blooms, it’s better with you…”

Celebrating the everyday, ‘Life’s A Fucking Miracle’ is as joyful and life affirming as you might expect, as well as celebrating the mundane, the track also encourages the listener to unite and be inclusive with lines like “celebrate, she, he, we, they, welcome sign…”

The beautiful ‘Butterfly’ not only references the album’s title, but it also tells the story of fleeting moments and how it only takes an ephemeral encounter to make an impact on the protagonist. It tells the story of a young hitch-hiker whose carefree attitude sadly ends in tragedy. The impressive storytelling and emotive delivery makes ‘Butterfly’, one of the standout tracks on the album and feels reminiscent of the kind of lyrical narrative that the likes of Johnny Cash used to do. ‘Butterfly’ is set to become a fan favourite that will become an unmissable mainstay of the band’s live sets.

The electro-infused ‘Stay’ gives light at the end of the tunnel with the emotive message that we shouldn’t let today determine tomorrow and the importance that we should “love what we’ve got…” 

Human connection always wins over technology and no more so than with ‘Mobile God’ where it speaks from the perspective of a smartphone and how these pocket-sized parasites own us and not the other way around. From the tongue-in-cheek ‘I’m the lover you touch in the morning’ to the somewhat sinister “You’re my bitches / Control all the fixtures of your head”, it’s enough to make me chuck my phone out of the window (but not before I finish this review of course!).

The band have never shied away at candid lyrics and themes and no more so on the psychedelic ‘Hey’ which also veers into a gospel pop sphere where they talk of conspiracy theorists and how “conspiracy spreads conspiracy…” 

At 63, one can’t dispute the pure energy that Tim Booth has on stage, and the ebullient ‘Rogue’ is a big f*ck you to people thinking that age defines who we are and what we do. The perfect anti-ageism statement, Tim sings of his previous incarnations (a punk, a saint, a fool, Vishnu) but that he still has ‘work to do’ and encourages us all to: “Find your song and sing from your bones / Dance till you drop…”

It’s evident that with ‘Yummy’ that the band’s appetite for creating music remains unsated and it sees the band at their most creative and progressive, delivering an impressive and thought-provoking body of work that can easily be ranked as one of their best.

8/10

Words: Emma Harrison // @emmahwriter 

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