Yes, it is true that this is a different James from the current (most recent, whatever) line-up. For the purposes of clarity and decency, the line-up of James during the Stutter era was Tim Booht (frontman, vocals), Jim Glennie (bass, backing vocals), Larry Gott (guitar) and Gavan Whelan (drums).
It is also true that the modern James, with a violinist and keyboards (not to mention more guitars), does have a diffeent sound.
Yet Stutter remains defiantly a James album. It was, after all, their very first. Their folk roots are also very, very clear in this album - the exultant "Scarecrow" starts with a bass line which almost sounds as if it could be something by Bob Dylan. There are many, many tracks like this in Stutter - bland, one may think, on first listening.
But there is something in Stutter which puts one into a slight sense of unease. "So Many Ways" is a fast, racing track with a repeated, addictive chorus. "Skullduggery" is an odd track with insane lyrics (the entire album starts with "An earwig crawls into my ear / makes a meal of the wax and hairs") - indeed, Tim Booth is, apparently, still worried about his state of mind at the time of recording.
There are, I believe, shades of future James tracks - and indeed entire albums - in Stutter. The aforementioned So Many Ways could even be a premonition of equally fast and addictive single "Sometimes". In fact, throughout the whole album there is something beautiful there - struggling to be set free; to burst out, perhaps. James' music will always be like that.
This album, while it may always be different, is the start of something oddly provocative and brilliantly idiosyncratic. And who cares what it is, exactly?
It's James. Enjoy James - that's what they're here for.