Mercury Records – 2001 – 55 minutes

Destined to be forever pigeonholed by their 1991 hit 'Sit Down', Manchester band James have, to their credit, continued to try and forge a more substantial musical legacy. Re-united with producer Brian Eno, the septet return with 'Pleased To Meet You', the follow-up to 1999's 'Millionaires'.

With a bright opening, one could be forgiven for thinking that James had struck a rich vein with their ninth studio offering. Opener 'Space' bursts into life with drums, bass, a catchy 1980s style synthesizer, and an oddly winning chanted chorus. Similarly, 'Falling Down' swaggers through with a curious Booth falsetto during the verses, and a classic pop chorus. Rounds 1 and 2 to James. But that's all.

After its initial promise, the bulk of this album passes by in a haze of blandness and mediocrity. The only feeling that songs like 'The Shining', 'Give It Away' and 'Fine' inspire is apathy. Many of the tracks are undone by their own earnestness, and lyrically the album is instantly forgettable. First single 'Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)' is probably the only song on the latter half of the album which emerges with any credit.

Whether you're a James fan or not, the band certainly deserves recognition for longevity, if nothing else. Despite its early promise, however, 'Pleased To Meet You' will ensure that its creators fail to emerge from the shadow of 'Sit Down'. Back to the drawing board, I'm afraid.

Tom Grealis

Tracklisting: Space – Falling Down – English Beefcake – Junkie – Pleased To Meet You – The Shining – Senorita – Gaudi – What Is It Good For? – Give It Away – Fine – Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) – Alaskan Pipeline