James are set to return on the 2nd June with brand new studio album, La Petite Mort. Being their first full length studio album for six years, fever pitch surrounding it has reached an all time high. Produced by Max Dingel, who had previously worked with Muse, The Killers and White Lies, La Petite Mort sees the Manchester cohort back with Tim Booth at the helm.
So what can we expect? Well that ever so familiar vocal of Tim Booth, that we all know and love is just as strong and distinct as it always was, but the wrapping upon which it lies is somewhat cleaner, shinier and dancier.
The album itself has a very theatrical swing to it, which isn’t unexpected, but the influence of Max Vingel can be heard throughout. The man behind The Killers and Muse has certainly made his print audible with stadium esque production filling the album. Where as we may have expected acoustic sounds with wailing Smiths-sounding guitars washing over it we now have an album that is bordering on electronic. The album kicks off with ‘Walk Like You’ which is a piano- heavy introduction fit for the stage. Drama oozes from this offering and with Tim’s vocal haunting over the top this sets the tone for the rest of the record. The first electronic taster comes from ‘Curse Curs’ with spacey pads, a 4×4 dance kick and a hook that wouldn’t have been unfamiliar in the early days of trance. Dare I say it, this sounds a tad Pet Shop Boys but it works!!!!
The pads and dance percussion, as mentioned before, are elements that are used throughout the record and provide the back bone however these are loosened more as the album goes on. As it continues it slows down somewhat with songs such as ‘Bitter Virtue’ and ‘All In My Mind’ sounding more familiar. In these the piano is still king but brass sections give them a more recognisable James feel. The intensity and floor filling elements are brought back once again for the last song on the album, ‘All I’m Saying’ and with a rousing vocal cap off the album nicely.
‘La Petite Mort’ may mean ‘The Little Death’, but this record has all the makings of a rebirth, signalling a refreshed sound from Booth and co.