After coming to prominence as the frontman of the Mercury Prize-winning Klaxons, recording with Arctic Monkeys, and crafting his Shock Machine project, James Righton now brings us his debut solo album The Performer. Its an album that stands in stark contrast to the electro-hedonism of his work with Klaxons. Instead, it spins through various points from 1970 onwards. It touches on the suave art-lounge of Roxy Music, the jangly grooves of R.E.M., the sumptuous psychedelia of latter day Beach Boys, and the songwriting gift of Nick Lowe. In short, it uses classic elements as the groundwork for something which feels a natural fit for right now.
Those influences permeate the album’s title track and lead single. On one hand, it’s an existential dilemma of trying to reconcile the flamboyance of being an artist with the mundanity of family life. On the other, it’s escapist – slipping into another identity allows them to co-exist without one overruling the other. As Righton questions, “Am I this showman up on stage? Or am I the dad changing nappies? Am I living in the moment and doing something enjoyable? Or am I fucking miserable? I find that really interesting: this idea of putting on a suit and becoming this other thing.”
The album’s flits between two core themes. Fatherhood has changed Righton’s life. It’s altered the relationship with his wife Keira Knightley, which he explores on the 90s-tinged pop-rock of ‘Start’ and the crescendo that soars through ‘Lessons In Dreamland, Pt2’. But there are simpler emotions too, with the unrequited love and sweet harmonies of ‘Edie’, a song he wrote for his daughter when she was just a few days old.
LP format includes download code
1. The Performer
3. See The Monster
4. Devil is Loose
5. Lessons In Dreamland, Pt1
6. Are You With Me?
8. Heavy Heart
9. Lessons In Dreamland, Pt2
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