James Bay is back and embracing the phrase “new hair, new me”

Jessica Leydet, Social Media Editor

British indie rocker James Bay released his sophomore album “Electric Light” on May 18, 2018. After the debut of his first album, “Chaos and the Calm” (2015), fans were swooning over his raw vocals in “Let It Go” and “Hold Back the River.” For his new record, he cut off his long locks, lost his rustic hat and went back to the drawing board. Don’t worry, it is just as infectious as the last—but this one packs a punch.

Bay experimented with the genre of this new release, by infusing his trademark sound with a synth-pop edge. His new songs “Wild Love” and “In My Head” really take on the form of this new persona he created with electrifying lyrics that spell it out for you—“I’m fed up with this profile.” In addition to that, he still pulled through with those deep-rooted love songs we know and love with “Us” and “Slide,” and they will totally tug at your heartstrings.

One of my favorites on the album is the tune, “In My Head.” There are some incredible lyrics in this song that perfectly describe what it is like to be single for a long time, but then you meet someone who kind of shakes you up and catches you off guard. It reveals the thoughts that we all have sometimes and no one ever really wants to say out loud. “I’m confused and I’m lonely/ So is everyone else/ Where are you in this ocean of static and nothing/ much else?” It also describes feeling like you have to depend on this person to save you from feeling isolated with lines like, “Say that you can see me, I’ll speak up I swear” and “I swear I got somethin’ worth heart/I know you could find it”.

The song “Pink Lemonade” is definitely a a party anthem because of the hypnotizing guitar riffs and drum beats that pair so well with the repetitive yet borderline genius lyrics. The song is basically a one sided argument, so the recurring lines, “Do you wanna talk?/ Do you wanna talk it through?” /Swear I ain’t got anything on my mind/ I don’t wanna talk to you” tire you out just like the conversation would—but in this case it’s only from dancing.

Aside from full length tracks, Bay included an audio recording at the beginning titled, “Intro” which made the whole album feel like it was a part of a larger picture. The recording appears to be a conversation between a woman and a man outside of a party. She asks what is bothering him, and he replies “I don’t… I don’t know how I… I feel about… this… us.” This is the entire premise of the album: what does it mean to be exclusive? More importantly, what does it mean to love someone?

He also includes another audio recording mid-album titled, “Interlude.” It is the same voices, a woman and a man, and it sounds as though they have left the party and have another conversation about how they will get home. If you really read into it, you could guess they go home together because the track leads into, “Just for Tonight” which is a song that is basically about hooking up.

I think it is really cool to see Bay reinvent his sound and artistic approach. I also like that with this one he stuck with an overall theme and it transported you into the relationship of the people in the recordings. Even though I prefer his last album’s rugged yet sweetly unembellished approach, I think fans will stick by this new fully charged and intoxicating James Bay. Either way, I adore the way he wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to songwriting.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars