THE PRESS RELEASE: “After coming to prominence as the frontman of the Mercury Prize-winning Klaxons, recording with Arctic Monkeys, and crafting his Shock Machine project, James Righton releases his debut solo album. The Performer stands in stark contrast to the electro-hedonism of Righton’s work with Klaxons. Instead, it spins through various points from 1970 onwards. It touches on the suave art-lounge of Roxy Music, the jangly grooves of R.E.M., the sumptuous psychedelia of latter day Beach Boys, and the songwriting gift of Nick Lowe. In short, it uses classic elements as the groundwork for something which feels a natural fit for 2019. On one hand, it’s an existential dilemma of trying to reconcile the flamboyance of being an artist with the mundanity of family life. On the other, it’s escapist – slipping into another identity allows them to co-exist without one overruling the other. As Righton questions, “Am I this showman up on stage? Or am I the dad changing nappies? Am I living in the moment and doing something enjoyable? Or am I fucking miserable? I find that really interesting: this idea of putting on a suit and becoming this other thing.”
MY TWO CENTS: We all have to grow up sometime. Apparently that time has come for James Righton. Nothing wrong with that. Nor with his solo debut The Performer. In contrast to its title, the nine-track album doesn’t come off as some sort of preconceived act. It feels honest and open and revealing, with Righton examining his own personal/professional duality in his lyrics. To be fair, that probably makes it sound way more self-indulgent than it comes across — Righton may be digging deeper than he has before, but he’s still smart enough to outfit all that introspection and confession with smooth, supple, stylish slices of old-school singer-songwriter soul-pop. Granted, some bigger, hookier choruses wouldn’t hurt, but all in all, not a bad performance. Especially from a guy trying to grow up in public.