James/ All The Colours You Love, Alternative Rock, Virgin-Nothing But Love
Since its launch in 1986, British band James has been incredibly consistent, building a strong fan base with songs like Laid, She’s A Star, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), Born Of Frustration and Say Something. For some reason, the group has been under-rated too.
The 16th James album All The Colours You Have has its share of beauties. In his distinct style, Tim Booth begins the opening track Zero singing, “We’re all gonna die, that’s the truth, stop measuring time, with money and youth”. The song is about living life to the full.
Though it was begun before lockdown, the album changed focus later. The track Recover is a tribute to Booth’s father-in-law who died of Covid 19. The title track and neo-psychedelic Wherever It Takes Us are inspired by anti-Trump sentiment and the George Floyd protests.
The environment-friendly Beautiful Beaches and metaphorical Miss America are vintage James. The guitars by Saul Davies and Adrian Oxaal, and the constant surprises, add more colour to All The Colours You Have.
Rating: 9/ 10
Wolf Alice/ Blue Weekend, Dream-Pop, Dirty Hit-RCA
Formed in 2010, British act Wolf Alice actually hit the headlines after winning the Mercury Prize in 2018. Its third album Blue Weekend leaves you a bit confused on initial listening, but grows slowly and smoothly.
Beginning and ending with the harmony-tinged two-part The Beach, the album is helped by Ellie Rowsell’s clear vocals, ambient soundscapes and a sound that blends folk and alternative dream-pop. The songs talk of relationships, not restricted to romance.
From the hard-rocking Smile and folk-laced Safe From Heartbreak to the overdub-heavy How Can I Make It OK? and beautifully-sung No Hard Feelings, there’s plenty of variety. However, the punk-driven Play The Greatest Hits seems out of place.
The production by Markus Dravs is worth a mention, as he uses studio effects and background layers brilliantly, specially on The Last Man On Earth. Once again, give this album some time, and let it sink in.
Rating: 8/ 10
Olivia Rodrigo/ Sour, Pop, Geffen
Known for her roles in Disney serials, Olivia Rodrigo makes her music album debut with Sour. She’s 18, and her songs talk of teenage issues like infatuation, insecurity, betrayal and envy.
Olivia oscillates between uptempo punk-pop, which is too routine, and soulful ballads, where she shines. The former is exemplified by Brutal where she sings, “I’m so insecure I think that I’ll die before I drink”‘ or Good 4 U, where she talks of being too emotional.
Slower songs like Enough For You, Driver’s Licence, Traitor and Happier are addressed to a former lover. Here, the American’s singing is filled with emotion, and touches a chord.
The songs Jealousy Jealousy and Deja Vu deal with teenage issues. Olivia has surely got her target audience right, and makes a confident debut, though she needs to work on her rocksier side.
Rating: 7/ 10
Maroon 5/ Jordi, Pop-Rock, Interscope
Having tasted enormous success with its 2002 album Songs About Jane, American band Maroon 5 has always faced comparisons thereafter. The hit songs have been there but the hysteria came down.
On its seventh album Jordi, named after late manager Jordan Feldstein, the band starts off smoothly, with vocalist Adam Levine combining well with guest rapper Megan Thee Stallion on Beautiful Mistakes. Lost and Lovesick boast of infectious grooves.
The only other song that stands out is the first single Memories, inspired by German composer Johann Pachibel’s Canon In D Major. But since it was released in 2019, the freshness is lost.
Remedy features Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame, but that’s only a name-dropping exercise. The net result is an album that seems to struggle to provide something new. Most of it is routine fare.