A few months back, I reviewed a new mini-album from James called The Night Before. The companion EP was just released in September called The Morning After. Conveniently, in the United States both EPs are packaged together as a 15 song, 2-disc set called The Morning After The Night Before for under $12. This review will focus on the 8 songs of The Morning After.
While not as immediately accessible as its companion disc, The Morning After is a much darker and subdued collection of songs. After a couple listens, these 8 songs began revealing their inner beauty and I have not been able to get this thing out of my player.
James are masters at juxtaposing uplifting musical backgrounds and melodies while the lyrics focus on some pretty dark themes (spousal abuse, cancer, etc.) The obvious example is 'Tell Her I Said So.' Set to a bouncy beat, funky bassline and Gary Numan-like synth lines, singer Tim Booth tells the story of his mother dying in a nursing home. "If I could leave I wouldn't stay / Never thought I'd end this way." It is an amazing track and my favorite on the album. 'Lookaway' is another standout with its lush strings and singalong chorus.
I cannot say enough about the quality of music that comes out of these guys from Manchester. They're going on a 30 year career and their music just keeps getting better with age.
Release Date: September 14, 2010 on Mercury Records