Classic rock revivalists Baby James describe themselves as “a small band from Stockholm with nothing much to our name.” Turning weakness into strength, they wrote and recorded the five tracks of No Brainer over a two day period last year, subsequently adding a few overdubs to finish off the record.
The songs, played “with more feel than skill”, give off an impromptu, fun vibe. The lack of writing prior to the recording session is mostly compensated for by the quality of the improvising.
The basic setup and production suit this type of band very well. Taking their lead from The Black Keys and Eagles of Death Metal, you get the impression that they would use a larger budget well but in restricting themselves as they have with No Brainer they may have tapped in to a special musical vein.
It’s a brave move, or maybe a foolish one, to open your debut EP with an instrumental track but Baby James do so with the title track. When the vocals finally appear on the second song, ‘Factory Floor’, they are in the classic rock style of Lou Reed and Mick Jagger.
The song has a blues structure, with two verses that each end in the same refrain but no chorus. After the solo and instrumental section there are shades of Primal Scream in the repeated outro of “Got my life on hold, yeah!” with its gospel backing.
But while the off-the-cuff jamming works on the opening instrumental track, in the absence of a vocal track, ‘Hey Baby’ merely sounds unfinished. The backing music would be adequate if it were accompanying a strong lyric but it is not robust enough in itself to carry the tune.
The brass accompaniment and double-time, blaxploitation, final movement give ‘Where You Gonna Go’ some real pizzazz but again without a vocal track of any sort, it is too basic to maintain interest for the duration. The vocal on ‘The Lie Sticks To You’ is quite like Shaun Ryder and there is a vaguely Happy Mondays vibe to the song.
It sounds uncharitable to say that over these six tracks there are only two finished songs but it is no less true. There’s a lot of potential here but little actuality. Come back when it’s ready, Baby James, and we’ll talk again.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/234187282″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]