James - Waterfall

Manchester indie-rock luminaries James have been releasing records longer than a good many of you will have been on this planet. That in itself, is representative of the loyal and adoring fan-base that the group have been able to attract over the course of the past twenty years or so. Indeed, the band must be one of the only groups hailing from Manchester (The Fall being about the only other I could think of) who could name each of The Smiths, the Mondays, The Roses, Oasis, Elbow and The Courteeners amongst their contemporaries. Although the band’s career has been both relatively consistent and lengthy, it hasn’t been without its fair share of tribulations. The band’s initial years were somewhat of a slog and it was not until the phenomenon that was ‘Madchester’ exploded in the late eighties and early nineties that the band experienced anything remotely approximating commercial success. Indeed, it could be strongly argued that without the success of the Roses and the Mondays, then James would never have had a bandwagon to jump on the back of in the first place and forever remained on the toilet circuit.
Alas, instead the nineties saw the band sell millions of records and release one of those singles (Sit Down), which naggingly remains ingrained in one’s brain and meant that James would forever be a household name. Over ten years later and with the cash cow of a stadium tour as an incentive James are back touring and releasing accompanying new material. ‘Waterfall’ (no, not the Roses classic) is taken from the band’s latest album ‘Hey Ma’ and is about as lifeless as Gordon Brown’s premiership. Its opening line is perhaps symptomatic of Booth’s current mindset; “my mirror’s laughing at me, it says ‘boy are you getting old’ “. The track enlists the help of horns, an obvious trick frequently used by clapped-out indie bands attempting to ostensibly lift tunes from listless mire. As always with humdrum indie, it is to little avail. Booth later asks “How much junk in my life do I really need?” If you find yourself listening to this track, you may find yourself asking the same question. As a band James have released some extremely listenable singles during their time, listening to this disengaging, predictable and frankly boring track also begs the question “Why bother tarnishing your legacy with this moribund affair?”