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Album Review
James Pants

James Pants
by James Pants

Stones Throw Records

Review Date
10th June, 2011
Reviewed by
Christiaan de Wit

Only loosely connected to the US West Coast wonky scene around Flying Lotus, Daedelus, Carlos Niño and many more, James Pants (born James Singleton) manages to sound unlike any of these Californian beatnicks. It may help that he lives a bit inland from that West Coast; in Spokane, not far from mysterious Twin Peaks. So instead of making high in demand Dilla-inspired beats, this crate digger pur sang has done about everything else over the course of his three albums for Stones Throw, from the slow disco and boogie tracks on 2008’s Welcome to his psych-informed work on Seven Seals a year later. The songs on both albums breathe an exceptional level of melodic and rhythmic creativity, topped off by Singleton’s lyrics, which are either romantic, heartbroken or somewhere in the middle.

For his self-titled third album – possibly inspired by a few listens to Stones Throw’s compilation The Minimal Wave Tapes – Singleton decided to further explore the world of wave and punk. On his self titled third LP, he seems to have left the sampler untouched most of the time in favour of superb and dramatic synth, drum and guitar playing. There’s no generic distorted punk riffs to be heard on the album: all songs can be sung – or mumbled – along with; Singleton’s love for boogie and psychedelic music has shifted more to the background but is never completely left behind, which is why the record’s feel is versatile and happy rather than puristic and depressed.

So we’re kind of back to the start of the attempt to describe this album. If I could do it all over again I’d say it’s a collection of lo-fi funk ballads that isn’t hard to relate to, even for those unfamiliar with the genre. Phrases like 'Every Night I Think of You' and 'I Love You Darling, Loved You from the Start' are part of the universal language of love and despair people all around the world can understand. James Pants is an amazing record despite or maybe because of its genuine cheesiness.


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