Girl At The End Of The World is a record born out of a career spanning over 30 years, and a back-catalogue of what is now twelve studio albums (14 if you count The Morning After/The Night Before EPs). Hailing from Manchester, James are a band that first materialized on the legendary Factory Records roster back in 1982. They flourished in the mid-nineties, and after taking a few years out, the band made a triumphant recovery in 2007 with well received singles such as Hey Ma’s Whiteboy and La Petit Mort’s emotive ballad Moving On.
With the already nicknamed GATEOTW however, though still jangly and danceable, James’ amalgamation of post-punk, Britpop and electronica this time delivers as slightly redundant. There are still commendable aspects to the album, including some standout guitar riffs, such as that in Move Down South, a song which also proves songwriter and vocalist Tim Booth still has a way with words. Yet somehow, unlike their previous records many of the songs on here lack presence and even more importantly, they lack personality.
Perhaps the biggest fault in this album is its opener. At almost 10 minutes long, it is titled Bitch, a word you find yourself hoping to never hear again by the time you reach the third chorus and the repetitive ear-pummeling of the word begins to numb the eardrums. Surfer’s Song is a song that swims in classic James themes of a moody vocal lead, which is later elevated with a crescendo of synths, creating a sound that sits between early Human League and pure EDM – but maybe a little too close to EDM than is preferable.
Nothing But Love is the most recently released single, one that certainly sings of spring, lodging itself in your mind with its layered, anthemic chorus’ that chant the songs title. It’s just a shame there aren’t more songs on this record that do the same, with many songs falling short due to overproduction diluting what was their trademark sound. But although they may not have delivered as well as they have previously, releasing an album like GATEOTW after such a long-running career is still an admirable effort, and with their well-established audience, it certainly won’t fall on deaf ears.