If Hey Ma marks the return of James into the national consciousness, it does so with great aplomb and, perversely, sentimental devotion to the time that originally spawned the group.
As “Bubbles”, the opener, chimes in, the listener is reminded of long hot summers spent queuing up outside HMV, waiting for the latest Blur album to hit the shelves…
Anyway, “Oh my Heart” delves into the gooey-good feeling that only James’s back catalogue can rival, with similar results on catchy single “Whiteboy”. It’s only once you reach “Upside”’ that the exposure to raw emotion and a relentless kitchen-sink approach become more apparent.
Apart from some admirably anti-war lyrics on the title track, if we were are to believe all we hear then lead singer Tim Booth must have grown a beard since the last tour, with corduroy, elasticised slippers to match. James run a close second to The Courteeners for this month’s worst lyric with “Don’t need a phone company to tell you life's pay as you go” on “Waterfall”.
As comeback albums go Hey Ma is more than adequate, and for fans of the band there is much to like. However, if you want James as they were - and should be remembered - then my advice is to buy their older stuff instead.
- Hey Ma is out NOW