All the Colours of You is “made of stars.”
British band James’ 16th studio album comes barreling out as a creature created by the tumultuous last couple of years. All The Colours of You discusses the topics that formulated 2020 and 2021—from the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, protests and the murder of George Floyd. The songs go from anthemic to a sweaty club beat, all wrapped up in a blissfully light rock tone throughout.
“Zero” kicks off the album, and with its lyrics “we’re all going to die,” one would think that the album would have a somber take on the past year, but the song still remains optimistic throughout the realism presented. Nuggets of optimism are peppered throughout the lyrics like “keep dancing with hope” and “so live true and shine, don’t live unfulfilled.” The introduction is a mixture of broken-up sounds and a twinkling piano trill before leading into a sad guitar riff for the rest of the song.
One of the singles, the title track “All The Colours of You,” dives deep into the presidency of Donald Trump, as well as the realities of quarantine. Its electronic beat takes a back seat to the lyrics and vocals, which are strong and clear. “Haven’t hugged a human since May” will definitely send a rush of bitter COVID-19 nostalgia throughout the listener. It quickly shifts to the real core of the song, the United States, or as James puts it, the “disunited states.” The band is not afraid to make connections between Donald Trump and the Ku Klux Klan (which uncomfortably makes its way throughout the chorus of the song.) However, it appears that the song does not strive to make the listener comfortable, exactly. “All The Colours of You” is a hard-hitting, bold and striking immortalization of the issues that have occurred within the past few years, making it, without a doubt, the most important song on the album.
“Recover” sounds a bit like the work of Muse, with its minimalist, electronic background sound and intimately close vocals. “Recover” is a piece of the COVID-19 quarantine, not the beginning part with all the fear and uncertainty, and not where we are now, with rising vaccinations and newfound societal hope. “Recover” deals with the middle part of quarantine, where people realized that “nature needs a break” and people were all “out of a job.” But beyond the monotony that the middle part of quarantine brought, it also has to do with losing loved ones to the virus or wondering/hoping that they recover. The lyrics “he can’t breathe without a machine to carry the load” hits hard on those who have had to see their family members and friends be affected by the virus and lockdown.
“Beautiful Beaches” is the change in tone the album needed, something to loosen up the sadness of “Recover.” The track sounds like a warm summer day, a perfect day for the beach. It’s light and airy, with the beat of a coming of age soundtrack, kicking in with a little bit of sadness with the electronic sounds that begin and end the song. The drum beats towards the end are sprightly, making sure to not bring down the energy that the song created.
A funky electronic club-type beat introduces itself with the song “Wherever It Takes Us.” The beat bops up and down, perfectly melting with the rock sound. The vocals are close up and in your face as if Tim Booth (lead singer of James) is telling a very specific and intricate story right to the listener. The song plays out almost like a spoken word poem, with wondrous imagery and a grandiose chorus “we’re all in wherever it takes us.” Towards the middle of the song, a woman’s voice appears, weaving and winding its way through the song, smooth and sultry—perhaps this is the “she” referenced throughout the song. Either way, one thing is clear: she’s “made of stars.”
All The Colours of You captures a lot of real moments from 2020, and along with that, it also captures a majestic “multiverse” of songs that will float its listeners out to space. A delicious mixture of electronic creativity and the sadness that comes with realism, James have created an album that’s relatable, healing and that will offer up a place to escape.