After "Sit Down" James were one of the UK's biggest bands, and they released this at the peak of their popularity. And it's a big album. The songwriting can't be faulted and the production is immaculate. There's something missing though, maybe the uninhibited energy of "Gold Mother". It's perhaps too polished, overproduced and same-sounding. A lot of reviewers compared it to the 80's stadium rock of U2 and Simple Minds. Indeed the "la-la-la-la" theme of "Born of Frustration" sounds uncomfortably like the latter's "Don't You (Forget About Me)", and the guitars are sometimes Edge-like. Particularly on "Sound", the strong first single based on a throbbing bassline. Although the shrieking trumpets and Tim Booth's yodelling vocals do help to disperse the stodge. "Bring a Gun" recalls the fun ranty political strums of their previous album. The final anthem "Seven" ends the album strongly with some unashamed arm-waving pomp-rock at its best. The album would have been rated more highly at the time, but it hasn't aged as well as "Gold Mother".
October 2, 2003