Perhaps wary of the unfortunate trend for reunited bands' albums to fail to match former glories, James have rejigged their entire way of working. Founder guitarist Larry Gott rejoined the band for 2007's so-so comeback Hey Ma, but this first of two mini-albums was conceived virally, each member contributing and updating each others work via a website. The experiments have produced one of the strongest efforts of their career, combining the idiosyncrasies of their Factory/Rough Trade period with the big choruses of the 90s stadium era. Porcupine, Crazy and especially Ten Below – Tim Booth's affecting reminiscence about listening to John Peel – will easily slot into the live set alongside the likes of Sit Down. Age and vulnerability – notably a successful battle with liver disease – has given Booth's discourses on insecurity more clout than usual. With only the over-earnest Hero falling below the standard, the seven songs leave you wanting more – presumably the idea behind companion set The Morning After, which follows in July.
Dave Simpson is a Guardian music critic and author