James Hey Ma

Despite a farewell tour in 2001, James were always too beloved to disappear completely. While singer Tim Booth might have been busy with a solo career and his attempts at acting, the other members have been treading water just waiting for the inevitable reunion. While it would have been easier for the band to simply rest on former glories, their reunion has already produced their first new work in seven years. Hey Ma is exactly the album fans expected. Booth’s characteristic yelped vocals make it hard to mistake this for anyone else and the songs still strive to be a lot more serious than they have any right to be, with their overly earnest lyrics, but this is exactly the album fans demand. Everyone else, on the other hand, will wonder why they have to write songs about dead soldiers coming back from Iraq instead of the feel good pop songs that make their greatest hits albums still sell by the bucket load in the UK. But after more than 25 years, they appear to know what they are doing. (Fontana North/Universal)