Album Review: Jim Bob is back!
Four and a half-years after releasing previous album Goffam, Jim Bob is back. These haven’t been Stone Roses-esque wasted years though as, impressively, the former Carter USM frontman has been busy writing a couple of acclaimed novels. And a third is on the way too.
Considering this, Jim Bob’s army of fans would have been forgiven for thinking that he had permanently swapped guitar for typewriter. But no, the man who once told this very site that, “at the moment I have no desire to make, or rather sell, any new music,” is finally dropping a brand new record, What I Think About When I Think About You.
The Londoner might have his fingers in a number of pies these days (on Twitter he describes himself as, “singer, author, dabbler, musical theatre star, all-round art ponce,”) but, thankfully, opening-track and lead-single Dream Come True proves that he still has an ear for a catchy-as-hell tune. Taking a swipe at the current state of the music business and the measured, manipulative heart-string-tugging of X Factor (“My Grandaddy is dying/I’m doing this for him/The audience are all crying/They want to see me win”), the chorus is so infectious that it takes up squatter’s rights in your head.
As one would expect from an author, Jim pens some absolutely killer lyrics. A combination of dark humour, trademark puns and social commentary weave through the record, punctuated by some gently downbeat moments, like Hands Free and the short-n-sweet Your Ghost (“I’ll never make a break-up record, because we’ll never break up”). Elsewhere, Seventeen opens not far from Jim’s spiky-yet-kinda-bubblegummy Jim’s Super Stereoworld stuff before soaring through lush strings. Jimmy Savile and chums are the subject of the shouty Monster in a Tracksuit, while the sometimes sinister My New Walk snarls through a fuzzy bassline, keys and horns. Similarly, Blood on Your Shoes is 83 seconds of violence (“2004, a fractured cheek and a broken jaw/Just feet from the oak wood door of the police station/Now the police station is closed/It’s a luxury block of condos and I still get a blocked up nose on occasion”).
Before the title-track’s denouement, Seat 21 brings proceedings towards a close with seven-minutes’ helpless reflection on the sorry state of the world and, once again, the country’s obsession with TV talent shows. It’s a heavy-hearted lament in an epic orchestral setting.
X Factor might dominate the music business these days, yet the fact that barely anybody remembers or cares who won last year’s competition means that we should cherish long-standing, talented and important musicians such Jim Bob even more. Long after people are finally bored with Cowell and chums, the likes of Jim Bob will still be there, writing great songs that really matter, and they deserve an audience.
Review by Bobby Townsend