James – Girl at the End of the World
James enter their fourth decade with at least a sliver of their original, dissident character intact. Girl at the End of the World is, on one level, more of the same: bulging arrangements; hefty half-hooks; Tim Booth's screwy commentary connecting somewhere to the left of immediately comprehensible. But it's also intelligent, accomplished and likeable. Bitch (fear not – it's smarter than that) is chugging space-rock with a distinct whiff of Hawkwind.
The synthpop diversions of Attention and Dear John are more than mere tinkering. If at times you wish Booth would reel it in a bit with the arch delivery, and that the tunes would more readily find the melodic sweet spot rather than rely so heavily on dynamics and feel, it's only fair to note that this is album number 14 and that James still pull sizeable crowds and attract an uncommon level of affection from their stout following. Credit for that and credit for, you know, having a go.