Signed by joint MDs Jim Chancellor and Mike Roe, this will be the band’s first album on new label Virgin Music Label & Artists Services, formerly Caroline International. It’s also the first at their new publishing home Kobalt Music, these changes reinforcing the endless and restless ambition they have as they approach their fourth decade as a band.
Recorded in part before the Covid pandemic struck, the album was produced by the Grammy award winning Jacknife Lee (U2, REM, Taylor Swift, Snow Patrol, The Killers). On production duties with James for the first time, he brought a fresh approach to their sound, working remotely from his studio liaising with Tim Booth (his Topanga Canyon neighbour) and Jim Glennie from the band, reimagining their demos and capturing the band in all their virtual glory. The result is a record with the most arena-ready and fresh tracks of their 38-year career; the sound of one of Britain’s best bands deconstructed and reassembled by one of the world’s most renowned producers.
Tim says: “With all the shit that went down in 2020 this was a miraculous conception and another big jump forward for us on the back of the last three albums. I hope it reflects the colours of these crazy times. Sweet sixteen is a proper album, no fillers and is up there with our best. With love, Tim.”
Jim says: “I’m pleased, proud and surprised by this record in equal amounts. Jacknife has pushed us and the songs somewhere new and it’s very exciting. After all these years, we are still challenging ourselves and our fans. Enjoy.”
From the first line on the album opener ZERO (“We’re all gonna die”) Tim addresses difficult subjects throughout the 11 tracks, with themes ranging from politics and climate change to dealing with the loss of a loved one during the pandemic. MISS AMERICA examines that country’s tarnished image through the eyes of a beauty pageant (“Miss America’s wearing thin, she’s all tiaras and glamour”) while BEAUTIFUL BEACHES focuses on the fires that ravished California and follows a vision Tim had of an earthquake which caused his family to flee for refuge (“That life we left behind, we’re racing down to those beautiful beaches”).
The first single from the album, ALL THE COLOURS OF YOU, tackles the Trump years head on. Based in the USA for many years, Tim witnessed first hand the divisiveness and hatred stoked by the former President. Highlighting the sharp rise of white supremacy during his reign, the track ultimately offers hope of a new and brighter future with the refrain “Love all the colours, all the colours of you”.
RECOVER is perhaps the most poignant song on the record, dealing with the death of Tim’s father in law from Covid-19 in the UK. A hopeful track with a delicate production, it’s an uplifting and joyful song and honours a loved one’s legacy and spirit; a celebration of life not the sadness of death which affirms “We will remember how to pass your spirit on”.