James
Laid


5.0
classic

Review

by fog USER (36 Reviews)
December 9th, 2021 | 13 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Somehow still not tired, still ready to break down paper walls

The first six months after I left school, I was acutely aware that I had not had any moments in my life as transcendent as James’ “Sometimes” sounds. Indeed, I believed this band had lied to me with all their outdoing of U2 at U2’s game. Then, one night after going out with my best friend and his girl (and a few randoms), we all got drunk and stopped off at a tiny patch of stony pseudo-beach. Everyone foolishly stripped down to run into the waves without too much thought. The water looked like black silicon streaked with white specks the colour of UFO exhaust fumes, and it was muscle spasm cold. When the sea dumped me on the shore at one point, I got up slowly and one half of my body was covered in pebble residue mixed with sand, like some child’s art project. The rain started to fall, and everyone was grinning and stupid, and I forgave James.

While “Laid” has a certain outsized spirit, the sound lives in a comforting space. There’s a confidence and conclusiveness that everything will happen at the right time, the right pace. It’s a bit like being on a train where you have the seat to yourself. You must go somewhere, be punctual, do something important, but you’re calm. It’s early morning, maybe everything is a bit blue still, but that’s ok, you’re just anticipating the sun warming your face with patient pleasure.

The songs that capture this trancelike state haunt you in a friendly way – “Out to get you”, “Dream Thrum”, “Five-O”, “Everybody knows”, “Knuckle to far”, “P.S” etc. hum with perfect pacing. The guitar tone of the slide playing is incredibly signature on this album and complements everything – strangely clean and relaxed, but also soulful, indicative of melancholy that leaves the spirit undiminished. The bass wants you breathe with it, look it in eye, get your heartbeat in sync, be comfortable.

A few tracks stand a little outside this familiar cocoon - “Sometimes” shares that reassuring energy but is stiffer, with bright slabs of stiff acoustic strumming and wild poetic vocal delivery. The band improvised up a chorus but saved the surprise of it for legendary producer Brian Eno, who described recording it as one of the highlights of his musical career. Possibly the weakest track (but perhaps serving as a palette cleanser) is “Low, low, low”. The track maybe doesn’t have that same sense of opportune magic and perhaps moves along in a bit of a pedestrian mid-tempo gait. This malaise is instantly dispelled by the overplayed and yet perennially amazing title track. The gullies and pools of the acoustic guitar keep you bobbing like a cork until the snappy snare buildups. Tim Booth channels his inner shy swan with lyrically appropriate vocal swoons at the end.

With “Laid”, James manage to transcend the limitations of the conventional pop rock record and create the atmosphere of being in a dream. Even if they’re out to get you, even if you’re insecure, you’re only one moment from waking to see the rain on the sea.



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user ratings (43)
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
fogza
December 9th 2021


4148 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Very quick work here, probably littered with mistakes, but seems weird this isn't reviewed

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Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
December 9th 2021


16286 Comments


idk fogza there's no way this is a 5

will read

Digging: I Concur - Able Archer

parksungjoon
December 9th 2021


39352 Comments


lol

parksungjoon
December 9th 2021


39352 Comments


the t/t is the only thing ive ever heard from this band

fogza
December 9th 2021


4148 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

''idk fogza there's no way this is a 5"



probably true phero, but by your beautiful majestic standards, what really is 🤔🤔

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
December 9th 2021


10286 Comments


this is a comfy rev and I'm HERE for it

DavidYowi
December 9th 2021


2118 Comments


Have fond memories of my parents playing the t/t in the car when I was a child. Wonderful review, that first paragraph is beautiful. Will give this a listen

Digging: Skee Mask - Pool

zakalwe
December 9th 2021


35309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nice one Fog.

This one also conjures up memories of the past for me, ‘Sometimes’ is one of the greatest songs ever written.

Digging: Elbow - Flying Dream 1

MrSirLordGentleman
December 9th 2021


14829 Comments


this one didn't have a review? woah

nice community service right here

great stuff

zakalwe
December 9th 2021


35309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

1990. Walking home from school and singing ‘sit down’ because it was stuck in my head and just knowing without question it was one of the best songs I’d ever heard.



1992. Buying Seven from WH Smith in Southend and absolutely loving it then a year later seeing the poster for this in ‘Our Price’ and being excited.



Fucking ‘90s >!!

Lasssie
December 9th 2021


1362 Comments


Damn i need to relisten to this
Love "Sometimes"

fogza
December 10th 2021


4148 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice friendly comments on here I like it

Lasssie
December 10th 2021


1362 Comments


and yeah nice lil review, fog!



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