The sound of a band baring their deepest emotions can provoke a multitude of reactions. In James’s case, it’s the sensation of having stumbled into a men’s therapy group at the moment they link arms for a group hug. Reunited on Pleased to Meet You (Universal) with producer Brian Eno — though his aesthete’s influence is hard to detect — the band continue their run of mini-symphonies by and for men who don’t cringe at terms such as “birthing partner”.
It’s ironic that Tim Booth should sing “Everything’s too much for a boy out of touch with his emotions” on the title track, because if anything, he’s too in touch with them.
It’s not necessarily a good thing to “show more than I hide”, as Booth says on Fine — incidentally, one of the album’s more sonically experimental moments, dominated by treated vocals and syncopated percussion.
Getting Away with It and Alaskan Pipeline are more recognisably Jamesean, with melodic intros and Booth wailing as if he’s halfway up the Matterhorn. An extra star is awarded, though, for the sparse and lovely Space.