Jamie T - Kings & Queens
It was back in 1922 that Stephen J. Poplawski invented the blender, his target demographic the milkshake and sofa fountain vendors of that time, intent on filling the youth of America with exciting beverages before they rushed off to watch Rin-Tin-Tin at the cinema. Little did he know that music journalists of the noughties would use his invention on a daily basis to describe the melding of genres and artists into something new. Jamie T is back - his slurred delivery and on-the-beat hip-hop lyrics like Shane MacGowan and Chuck D in a blender! In a blender! See? It's brilliant! Thanks, Mr.Poplawski!
Yes, Wimbledon's finest has returned with album number two, retaining his autobiographical style about the antics, the rogues and chancers in his life, telling stories of love, loss and fisticuffs. In the two years since Panic Prevention he's filled the sound out and there's less of a bedroom studio aesthetic this time round. Time seems to have made him less of an angry young man: the humor was always very prevalent in his work but it's taking a much bigger role on this album, able to laugh at the predicaments rather than wade in to deliver a smashed pint glass into the affray.
He's found a groove, set himself well and truly into it - and set the wheel spinning at 33 rpm. It's an album where his punchy lyrical delivery and music mesh together, often with spectacular results like snank-em-up 'British Intelligence' which bounces nicely along. I’m sure live versions will lead many exhausted revelers into the arms of St.John's Ambulance, begging for fluids and a sit-down. Also noteworthy is sagging - yet sweet - ballad 'Emily's Heart' on which Jamie's voice is that of a despondent lover at 3 am reliving his mistakes over a joint with his closest friends, the Tom Waits of the bus shelter and hoodies generation.
He’s taken what worked well on Panic Prevention and polished it up for display in the shop window. Whilst the charity shop thrift approach of his earlier work was charming, his maturing style and the cohesion through the album is a welcome change. Kings & Queens is a deep album with a human narrative and characters you can almost reach out to and text.
See you in town for a Malteser smoothie. Bring some fags - if you've got any.