James

La Petite Mort

BMG Chrysalis

Sep 16, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


"Everything old is new again," as the saying goes. This applies as much to '90s Britpop groups as it does to anything else. Pulp reunited, Suede released a comeback record (which is arguably better than David Bowie's of the same year), and Blur played Coachella alongside The Stone Roses. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that La Petite Mort, a new record by James, has entered the fray in 2014.

If all you know of James is that humorously carnal song you heard in some movie trailer once that starts with "this bed is on fire" ("Laid"), La Petite Mort may not strike your fancy. But if your knowledge of their catalogue extends beyond their most famous track to even a few more of their mid-'90s singles, their newest album offers up a familiar feast of songs which roll more than they rock. Starting with the seven minute "Walk Like You," La Petite Mort ushers in another song cycle characterized by the way it all seems to come together as it's happening. It's not to say James sounds like some kind of jam band, but despite their genteel precision and calculation, they let their music come in like the tide.

Not everything here is nostalgic though. "Curse Curse" sounds like an EDM remix of a long-lost song of theirs, complete with synthesizer swells and thumping bass beats. What could've been a faux pas made in an attempt to be relevant ends up being a triumph. They maintain their identity even when trying on or shaking off new clothes. La Petite Mort may not be a groundbreaker, but it's definitely a treat. (www.wearejames.com)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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