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Chart Chat Album Review : James – ‘La Petite Mort’ 02.06.14

Chart Chat Album Review : James – ‘La Petite Mort’ (02.06.14)

Despite the fact that James have nineteen hit singles to their name most people remember them for ‘Sit Down’ which made no.2 in 1991 before returning seven years later for another top ten run in a remixed format. However their loyal fans will know that there is so much more to them than that with twelve top twenty albums to their name. They haven’t released any new music since 2010 when their two mini albums ‘The Night Before’ and ‘The Morning After’ peaked at no.20 and no.19 respectively. Now they are back with 46 minutes of new material spread over ten tracks and we’re here to review the album on a track by track basis.

Walk Like You

This is where it all begins, and it starts with a seven minute epic. Tim Booth goes back to childhood days with lyrics such as “which parent told you that you’re slow / my absent Dad my Mum’s control / schooled me to be a worker drone”. Those who have remained fans of James material will know that they know how to combine often very personal lyrics with epic pop songs and despite its length this is another example of this. 

Curse Curse

This continues the up-tempo start to the album although it comes in at three minutes shorter than the opening track. “Pour me some more Tequila / Raise the flames to fever / some spirit draws me out / Praise the Lord and kiss me on the mouth” sings Tim. I like this track, and it is one that I revisited again and again after my initial play of the album. It sounds fresh while still retaining some of the trademark James sound. 

Moving On

This has been the lead single, and the video which accompanies it is a thing of beauty. The song came from the death of Tim Booth’s mother which saw him spend the last couple of days of her life with her, singing soothing songs and sharing memories. It makes the lyrics such as “Gone / Didn’t see it coming / Never said I love you / Hope you knew” even more poignant, and the closing refrains of “I’m on my way” and “Leave a light on” offer an acknowledgment of death but also the hope that there is something more out there. This is every bit as memorable as their chart hits and will doubtless become a live favourite in the years to come.

Gone Baby Gone

Perhaps less immediate than some of the other tracks to be found on here, this is notable for its chanted chorus of “Gone baby gone / Baby gone / Baby gone”. The song deals with relationships, starting with the lines “She walked out the door / The china is smashed on the floor / a five year relationship / takes two to recover from”. Later in the lyrics Tim makes the profound declaration that “Love is a deal that we strike to conceal that we’re blind” and overall it’s a good song.

Frozen Britain

This is classic James and after just a couple of listens the chorus “Emily come to bed / Make a boy out of me” will firmly lodge itself in your brain. It comes backed with a vast musical landscape with Tim’s vocals sitting proudly in the mix. In a bygone era this would have been a big hit single but the arrival of downloads has meant that bands like James continue to sell albums but rarely appear in the charts where a shorter format dominates. This is perhaps my favourite song on the entire album. 

Interrogation

It was always going to be hard to follow on from such a great track, but ‘Interrogation’ finds its own way.  Slightly slower and in its own way quite dramatic the chorus focuses on “Let the records show / Liars lies and self-deceit”. It clocks in at a little under six minutes, so can lay claim to being one of the more epic songs on the album though not necessarily one of the more commercial. If this were on vinyl we would now be starting on side two, and that seems quite apt as the new few songs are quite different.

Bitter Virtue

A change of pace here as ‘Bitter Virtue’ arrives with a more stripped back musical arrangement than some of the previous tracks. The chorus goes “A bitter virtue / I’d rather live in sin / There’s pleasure in your suffering” and it stands out but for very different reasons to some of the other songs on the album. While some of the other tracks are more conventional upbeat pop songs this is more carefully crafted and demands your full attention when you listen to it. 

All In My Mind

This continues in a similar vein and showcases the more tender side to the band. The theme of death is revisited with lyrics such as “Bring out your dead / Laid out in line / A brief denial / Portends to more”. Lyrically it reminds me a little of ‘Hey Ma’, the title track of their 2008 top ten album which ended with the lines “Hey Ma / The boys in body bags / Coming home in pieces” and dealt with the US lead “War On Terror” following the 9/11 attacks. 

Quicken The Dead

Kicking off with a piano led intro, this is the shortest track on offer here at just two minutes thirty eight seconds. Lyrically Tim finds himself singing “Don’t ya know / We’re already dead” on the song which has a slightly more up-tempo feel to it than ‘Bitter Virtue’ and ‘All In My Mind’ but is still not in the sing along vein of ‘Frozen Britain’. 

All I’m Saying

And so the album draws to its conclusion with five minutes of ‘All I’m Saying’. It’s a fitting end to an excellent album – too often you will find bands whose long players end on a whimper.  As the final lyrics say “I’m missing you and all the worlds you opened up to view / I love you / See you next time”. And with that the album closes, but I look forward to the next time and hope this time around it’s quite such a long wait. 

Fans know pretty much what they are getting with a James album as each release is always of a high standard. The lyrics are always worth paying attention to, and there is a balance to be struck from the gentler but more dramatic tracks and the up-tempo commercial sing-along more pop orientated tracks. We may no longer see them on the singles chart but fortunately their strong fanbase ensures that they are consistently reaching the top twenty of the album chart.

The band feel, quite rightly, that this is one of their strongest albums to date and they have been able to secure a session slot on the Chris Evans show and an appearance on the One Show so hopefully that will serve to promote it still further.  With a bit of a following wind this could even see them back inside the top ten and there would be few bands more deserving of that return.

 

Ian Anderson (@ChartChatUK)

1 June, 2014 Posted by | ChartChat | Leave a comment

Chart Chat Edition 758 – W/C 01.06.14

Chart Chat Edition 758 – Week Commencing Sunday 1st June 2014 

Introduction

Welcome to edition 758 of Chart Chat, the music review site which has been running for over fourteen years.  You can find us on Twitter as @ChartChatUK so feel free to follow us and pass comment on the weeks new releases yourselves.  As always we will take a look at the current top forty followed by some reviews of the weeks new releases.  There is a new edition published weekly so if you are new here then I hope you will choose to revisit.  

Chart Review

There were six new entries, two re-entries, five climbers, twenty four songs going down and three non movers on this weeks chart. There was yet another change at the top this week as SecondCity went straight in at no.1 with ‘I Wanna Feel’ which meant that Sam Smith fell one place to no.2 with ‘Stay With Me’. He won’t be too disappointed though as his debut long player ‘In The Lonely Hour’ displaced Coldplay at the top of the album charts with sales in excess of 100k.

Klingande got a new entry at no.3 with ‘Jubel’ while Mr Probz fell two to no.4 with ‘Waves (Robin Schulz Remix)’. Rita Ora went down one to no.5 with ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ and John Legend was a non mover at no.6 with ‘All Of Me’. Fuse ODG & Sean Paul fell four to no.7 with ‘Dangerous Love’ and Paloma Faith got a non mover at no.8 with ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’. Ellie Goulding went straight in at no.9 with ‘Beating Heart’ and the top ten was rounded off by Calvin Harris who fell three to no.10 with ‘Summer’.

There was one new entry and a further two climbers to be found in what remained of the top twenty. Pharrell Williams went back up one to no.11 with ‘Happy’ and Coldplay climbed one to no.14 with ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’. The only new entry came at no.17 and went to Twin Atlantic with ‘Heart & Soul’.

There were two new entries, two re-entries and three climbers in the lower half of the chart this week.  Lana Del Rey got a new entry at no.21 with ‘West Coast’ while One Direction re-entered with ‘You & I’ following its official release as a single. Pharrell Williams continued his steady climb with ‘Marilyn Monroe’ edging up two places to no.25 and Sam Smith went back up four to no.26 with ‘Money On My Mind’. MAD went straight in at no.30 with ‘Shotgun’ and Nicki Minaj climbed seven to no.31 with ‘Pills & Potions’. The final re-entry went to Pitbull featuring Ke$ha who returned at no.36 with ‘Timber’.

New Releases

Blonde featuring Ryan Ashley – ‘Foolish’

Bristol based duo Blonde have teamed up with singer Ryan Ashley for their new single ‘Foolish’.  They met through the Eton Messy YouTube channel which has over 200k subscribers and have gained a reputation for producing bootleg versions of 90’s dance and r’n’b classics.  Disclosure have also featured on the channel along with up and coming stars such as Applebottom, Toyboy & Robin and Maribou State. They are set to appear for DJ sets at Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, Global Gathering, Creamfields and Wireless. The music video was uploaded on 14th April and it picked up over 50k views during its first month while KAASI and Danson remixes can also be found on the internet.  While the duo are building their fanbase very quickly I’m not sure if this will crossover onto the mainstream chart.  However I expect it to be big on the dance / club charts.

D’Banj – ‘Bother You’

Next up this week is the Nigerian singer / songwriter D’Banj who returns with his brand new single ‘Bother You’.  It was inspired by the Biyi Bandele’s 2013 film ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’ and it is released this week on his own DKM Media label. He was last in the charts with his top ten hit ‘Oliver Twist’ and would very much like this single to also achieve a similar level of success. The video to the track was first uploaded back in February and has picked up over 375k views in the three months since then. His career actually began in 2005 with his album ‘No Long Thing’ and he has picked up numerous awards in the nine years since then including most recently the Best African Act at the 2012 MOBO Awards. He faces some stiff competition this week if he is to make a new entry in this weekends chart but I could see this securing him a second top forty hit. 

Ed Sheeran – ‘Sing’

His debut album ‘+’ received six platinum sales awards and yielded six hit singles so his follow up ‘X’ has a hard act to follow.  Most recently he found himself in the charts with ‘I See Fire’ which featured on the soundtrack to ‘The Hobbit : The Desolation Of Smaug’ but this weeks single ‘Sing’ is the first taste of what we can expect from his new album which itself is released in three weeks from now. The track was co-written and produced by the in demand Pharrell Williams and has already topped the charts in both Australia and Sweden. He is due to take in a number of festival appearances around Europe across the Summer and will visit the UK for T In The Park in July. An audio upload of the track picked up over 6m listens prior to the tracks release and with airplay also being plentiful this looks set to be a big hit for him next weekend and could even challenge for the top spot.

Kasabian – ‘Eez-eh’

Kasabian are back with a new album entitled ‘48.13’, and this week sees the release of ‘Eez-eh’ as the first official single to be taken from it.  The album track ‘Explodes’ has already been available separately, and peaked at no.52, but this should see them back inside the top forty.  The single is released digitally complete with the bonus track ‘Beanz’ and the accompanying music video was uploaded to their Vevo account at the end of April, quickly notching up over 400k views during its first week.  It’s been five years since their biggest hit ‘Fire’ which made no.3, while their last appearance came with ‘Days Are Forgotten’ back in 2011.  Their last three albums have all reached the top spot and there is no reason not to expect ‘48.13’ to make it four in a row.  The album is out next week but this release is sure to keep fans happy during the meantime.

Lethal Bizzle featuring Cherri Voncelle – ‘The Drop’

Lethal Bizzle is back in action this week and teams up with vocalist Cherri Voncelle on his brand new single ‘The Drop’ which is released digitally on the New State Music label.  He has notched up eight top forty hits across his career with his most recent coming with his Ruby Goe collaboration ‘Party Right’.  However he hasn’t come close to matching his 2002 hit ‘Oi!’ which made the top ten and topped the r’n’b chart when he was part of More Fire Crew. A year after that hit he won a MOBO award for ‘Pow (Forward)’ and he also won critical acclaim for his appearance on the Kray Twinz hit ‘What We Do’ which reached no.23 back in 2005.  This year will see him turn thirty years old but he remains at the forefront of the UK music scene.  I think that this will do well for him and should go on to add another hit to his already impressive tally. 

Little Mix – ‘Salute’

Little Mix follow up their Sport Relief single ‘Word Up’ with the title track from their recent ‘Salute’ album.  Although their last outing reached the top ten, it disappeared from the charts after just four weeks. That is in complete contrast to the albums first single ‘Move’ which notched up 15 weeks on the chart.  The digital EP of ‘Salute’ comes with an acoustic version of ‘Move’, an acapella version of ‘Who’s Lovin You’ and four new mixes of the title track; the Single Version, the TroyBoi Remix, the Anakyn Remix and the Instrumental Version.  The band have also been doing very well in the US where both of their albums have reached the top ten. The video to the track was uploaded to their Vevo account on 1st May and quickly notched up 3m views in its first week.  I think this will give them another top forty hit, but I can’t see it becoming their third no.1.

Michelle Williams featuring Beyonce & Kelly Rowland – ‘Say Yes’

Michelle Williams is joined by her former Destinys Child bandmates Beyonce and Kelly Rowland for her new single ‘Say Yes’. She has yet to reach the UK top forty as a solo artist and has only once made the top 75 with her single ‘We Break The Dawn’ which peaked at no.47 back in 2008. The track will feature on her fourth studio album ‘Journey To Freedom’ which is scheduled for release later on this year. She has been more successful in the US with her track ‘The Greatest’ topping the dance charts while recently her single ‘If We Had Your Eyes’ making the top thirty on both the Gospel and R&B charts. The appearance of all three singers on the same song for the first time since the bands split is bound to create plenty of media attention and that could ensure enough airplay for her to achieve her first ever UK top forty hit.

Say Lou Lou – ‘Everything We Touch’

Next up are Say Lou Lou with their single ‘Everything We Touch’.  It is released digitally on the Sony label and comes with the bonus track ‘Peppermint’. The duo consists of twin sisters Elektra and Miranda Kilbey and they featured on the BBC Sound Of 2014 long list earlier this year. Their Festival appearances in the UK this year are set to include Secret Garden Party, Camp Bestival, Standon Calling and Wireless. The video to this track was first uploaded on 23rd April, and it picked up almost 200k views during its first fortnight. This is their fourth official single and follows up last years ‘Better In The Dark’ while a full length album is currently scheduled for release around November.  Whether this can break them into the top forty remains to be seen, but their following continues to grow and they should expect the album to be a success upon its release.

Wilkinson featuring Tom Cane – ‘Half Light’

Drum & bass producer Wilkinson has already graced the top ten with his single ‘Afterglow’ and will now be aiming for more success with his new single ‘Half Light’.  It’s another track to be taken from his ‘Lazers Not Included’ album which also featured his last single ‘Too Close’ and the hit ‘Afterglow’.  Tom is a regular vocalist on other musicians tracks having most recently worked with East & Young and Drumsound & Bassline Smith.  He recently appeared at the Radio 1 Big Weekend concert in Glasgow and this week is due to play in Canterbury, Nottingham and Manchester. He has numerous other festival appearances lined up over the Summer including Camp Bestival, Wireless, Global Gathering, Creamfields, Sundown, Boardmasters and Leeds / Reading. For me this is more commercial than his last outing and should see him back inside the top forty.

Also released this week are ‘Hopes Of A Thousand Men’ by Alternative England, ‘Speech Coma’ by Blood Red Shoes, ‘Burn The Bright Lights’ by The Collective, ‘Nobody Knows’ by Dan Croll featuring The Very Best, ‘You Learn To Live Without’ by Idina Menzel, ‘Rick James’ by Keyshia Cole featuring Juicy J, ‘Sights’ by London Grammar, ‘Here We Go’ by Lower Than Atlantis, ‘Money Can’t Buy’ by Ne-Yo featuring Jeezy, ‘Parachutes’ by Otto Knows and ‘B52 Riddim’ by Vato Gonzales.

Next Week…

It looks like Ed Sheeran could be on course for a first ever no.1 hit as ‘Sing’ looks set to storm the charts next weekend. Don’t forget to stop by next week when artists releasing new singles look set to include Arctic Monkeys, Chvrches, Ella Henderson and Zedd featuring Foxes.  Until then have yourself a good week.

 

Ian Anderson

1 June, 2014 Posted by | ChartChat | Leave a comment