Review: James Bay – ‘Wild Love’

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Underwhelming

An interesting new direction, but disappointing after waiting so long.

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James Bay‘s award-winning debut album, Chaos and The Calm, was always going to be difficult to replicate. So why replicate, when you can move into an entirely different direction? Well, simple really – don’t suffer the fate of ‘Wild Love’, which falls short as the ambition behind it is not matched by its execution.

Bay’s interviews doing the rounds where he discusses both his new style of music and new, Fedora-less look, seem for a brief moment not to have existed when the initial 5 second intro tune plays. It’s extremely reminiscent of the intro to ‘Hold Back the River’, probably Bay’s best track from his debut album. Sadly, for those fond of Bay’s previous work, it’s all downhill from this point.

A heavy synth overlay dominates ‘Wild Love’, with drum-programming also utilised to add to the more modern-pop oriented sound, as opposed to Bay’s previous indie rock. Whereas ‘Hold Back the River’ produced an increasingly pacy refrain of “Hold back the river, let me look into your eyes”, ‘Wild Love’ rarely breaks out of a lethargic rhythm.

Certainly, it’s not an entirely negative verdict on ‘Wild Love’. For one thing, Bay’s vocals do maintain an intense allure, drawing the listener into the track and into considering the feelings of immediate yearning for someone, which Bay is seeking to evoke.

Variation in itself is a worthy ideal and Bay can hardly be accused of recycling old formula for success. The use of synth is a radical departure from Bay’s previous emphasis on guitar riffs and perhaps is let down on this occasion by the slow pace of the track.

Ultimately though, what makes ‘Wild Love’ a rather forgettable comeback track are its lyrics. There’s no particularly fine hint of subtlety to it, with the chorus and repetition of the line “I Wanna Give You Wild Love” becoming irritating, rather than a catch, by the conclusion. Similarly, the concluding verse chorus of “Wild Love,/Wild Love/Wild Love” feels rather forced as a conclusion, making the track fizzle out, rather than sparkle.

For a returning track from an artist whose second album was eagerly anticipated after the superb Chaos and The Calm, it’s hard not to come away with some degree of disappointment. Hopefully, this won’t be the case when the rest of the album is released.

‘Wild Love’ is available now via Republic

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Now 2nd Year Modern History and Politics student/International Editor for Wessex Scene. Avid watcher of Poldark and Narcos because cocaine smuggling and tin mining are definitely the same thing

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