James Blunt

Back to Bedlam

(Atlantic; 2005)

By Alan Baban | 13 January 2008

Dear James,

Please stop making music.

I mean that, as I’m sure many other people do, sincerely. If you wish to continue in your vain endeavours to write something meaningful, please do it in your basement. If you do not have a basement, then I suggest you make your way to your nearest garden centre and buy an oversized spade. Find a plot of land somewhere in the woods and dig a hole. Bring provisions, newspapers – and don’t forget the soundproofing!

Jesus Christ, I’ve got enough work to do. But Bluntitis? That’s three pages of the textbook I think I’ll miss out. I’ve been planning on getting the new edition anyway; the one with pages that aren’t soiled with lame singer-songwriters, who can’t think outside of four chords and a falsetto.

The three unfortunate stages of Bluntitis:

Stage 1
A residual crawling of the skin accompanied by a moving, searing pain across the chest. If not checked up and alleviated with a heavy dosage of Elliott Smith, the sufferer may move onto...

Stage 2
Complete and utter devolution of musical understanding. Patients, previously versed in the sacred scriptures of Yo La Tengo and Neil Young, begin to claim, incredulously, that we are all on the cusp of a "new pop revolution," led by Santana, U2, Stereophonics and "that Blunt bloke." By now it’s usually too late, and the sufferer soon enters...

Stage 3
It consumes the listener, throwing those muscles in their mouth into a series of consecutively aligned spasmodic convulsions; spittle around the lips, tongue waggling, various words tumbling over each over, re-arranged, plastered together, stretch marks fuzzed out to form statements that are passed over to the psychiatrists. They spent weeks analysing: “Back to Bedlam be safe, blud.”

Apparently it means your album is fantastic. Which isn’t true. An insulting lack of innovation doesn’t equate to "fantastic." You get gold stars for being dull, though; no tonal shifts, no pacing shifts... I’m just hearing mouth. Masterpiece? In torture, maybe...

Please stop trying to sound like you mean what you’re singing. Not every human emotion needs to expressed with doe-eyed precision. The high notes remind me of the sound Venus Williams makes after she hits a tennis ball, like the sound of a large, wounded bird falling overhead.

Still not getting the idea? More lyrics:

> “My life is brilliant”
> “Beautiful dawn… there is nothing else in the world / I would rather wake up and see”
“My heart was blinded by you”

Yeah, I know; freedom of speech, I guess. There’s got to be some other way for you to elucidate your artistic intent. Painting?

The cud has been chewed out of these songs. It’s a rudderless toy ship floating on a sea of desiccating agent. Rotten woodchips; wellington boots thrust waist deep into an ocean of mud.

There’s a good side, too! It ends.

Best Wishes,