James Righton led a double life during his pandemic days. As if in some modernised, parallel-universe music version of Upstairs Downstairs, Righton was fathering his two daughters whilst broadcasting himself online as Jim, an alternative showbiz personality. He describes this duality as “like living in a Charlie Brooker sketch”; the origins of Jim, I’m Still Here carry a slight air of Black Mirror’s constrained pop star Ashley O, but tracks like ‘A Day at the Races’ ground the record in harsher realities.
The synth-fuelled record has a dreamy quality, and feels like it is inspired by the experimental spirit of Prince and Bowie’s forays into electronic textures. He does sprinkle in some of those legends’ swagger, living up to his status as an online entertainer for his following. Using a veil of funk, it would be more apt to compare James Righton to the likes of MGMT and Django Django, particularly on ‘Release Party’. They share the same influences but have put a modern twist on an ’80s pop sound.
Since Jim, I’m Still Here is a literal lockdown album, it already feels inextricable from a particular time. It has captured a very specific period of Righton’s life, and the spoken-word parts where he addresses himself do sometimes come across as indulgent. Yet on tracks like ‘Pause’, on which Righton embodies Major Tom, pushing past the basement boundaries and blasting off into celestial plain, and ‘Lover Boy’ is mystical with heartfelt groove, twinkling piano and Righton’s airy vocals, there’s enough to suggest that Righton’s Jim in top form, making him a perfect character for a future Black Mirror feature.
Please support Loud And Quiet if you can
If you’re a fan of what we do, please consider subscribing to L&Q to help fund our support of new musicians and independent labels
You can make a big difference for a few pounds per month, and in return we’ll send you our magazines, exclusive flexi discs, and other subscriber bonus bits and pieces
Try for a month and cancel anytime