Poetic Pop As Ever
James' first new album in 7 years, 'Hey Ma' was recorded at Warsy Chateau in the north of France and aims to recapture the early spirit of the Manchester band, before the strife that ended in their split in 2001. Since reforming in 2007 James have played various festivals, shows and proved that their fanbase still exists, 'Hey Ma' proves why with 11 glittering pop songs that glow with vigour. The triumphant, 'Bubbles' opens the album with its call of "I'm alive", like a phoenix rising from the flames amidst a fanfare of trilling brass.
The song 'Hey Ma' itself is a jangly, upbeat tune about war with Booth wailing, "Hey Ma, the boys in body bags, coming home in pieces", '72' also verges on the political, opening with the sneer, "You're gonna murder in the name of God, what kind of God are you dreaming of", it's a sharp, electro-infused indie rocker of a tune with crashing anthemic chorus. The majority of the tunes are pretty much the usual euphoric affair, 'Whiteboy' is a jaunty pop tune with a blustery vocal line
'Oh My Heart' glistens with angst bubbling up from beneath the cheery guitar line, while, 'Boom Boom' is a glossy, emotional outburst with brooding echoes of guitar followed by the melancholy, 'Semaphore' brimming with sorrowful sighs and glistening tones.
'Hey Ma' is pretty much what anyone familiar with James' back catalogue would expect from the reformed septet, whether any of this new material has the strength to become as classic as the tunes on their recent best of remains to be seen. 'Hey Ma' is a selection of 12 stellar pop songs, but most have nothing special about them other than the usual warmth and eloquent lyrics that James are known for.