It’s odd to think that at one point that Jamie T was essentially to indie rock what Frank Ocean was to the entire music scene prior to the release of Blond. While the quality of both artists can be debated, the way each of them managed to set the world on fire before somehow disappearing without a trace for years is undoubtedly an odd move especially in this day and age of social media dominance. Following the release of sophomore record Kings + Queens, it would be five years until fans of the South London grimy punk poet got their next dose in the form of Carry On The Grudge which swapped out youthful tales of drinking, smoking and romance for more introspective and mature songs that, while a far cry of what had come before, were delightfully beautiful and still just two years later.
It all made perfect sense considering the fact that Jamie T, full name Jamie Alexander Treays, had turned 28 at the time, now reaching the grand old age of 30, which meant it was only a matter of time before him talking about his adidas donned adolescent days would become tiresome. With Trick however, it seems that instead of following down this path he had established with COTG and reestablishing himself just like Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner has with a slick, suave new persona, Jamie T has made a step backwards in his style but manages to balance his already staple smart songwriting with a raw, heavy and energetic sound, resulting in arguably his best work since Panic Prevention.
There’s no build up to this punch either as soon as Trick starts, we’re welcomed by Tinfoil Boy which has become a divisive track since it was first shown off. While some may see it as a bit basic or less layered than what we’re used to, there’s no denying that the surge of audio adrenaline and paranoia fueled lyricism gets things off to a solid start. Even those who aren’t so big on this opening track will find something to love when Drone Strike quickly follows where Jamie T displays a flow that would put most rappers to shame and shows that he fully deserves the “British Beastie Boy” accolade that he has been graced with since his debut. Jamie T has always had a penchant for writing songs that transfer superbly to his live performances but with Trick, he’s sure to orchestrate menacing mosh pits with ease.
As Trick proceeds, things start to get borderline nostalgic at points. Take for instance Tescoland which is arguably one of the best pieces of music Jamie T has produced so far as a frantic leading guitar accompanies some classic witty lyrics including a skit that begins everything, no doubt a nod to the banality of a 9-5 retail job. Police Tape harks back to the early noughties indie rock peak lead by Bloc Party with menacing, politically fueled lyrics delivered by an even more sinister sounding Jamie which is enough to send a shiver down the spine.
As Trick nears its inevitable end, we start to see more of what Jamie crafted back on Carry On The Grudge with some more emotive tracks that don’t necessarily carry the same quality of flow that the first half does but don’t drop in quality either. The pinnacle of this end of the Jamie T spectrum is Self Esteem which has a choke-hold on the listener from the ripe beginning to the poignant and almost eerie conclusion.
What makes Trick such a standout album and not simply just a greatest hits as some are titling it is the amalgamation of all the different sides of Jamie T. Having left some of his carefree attitude at the door on his last release, Trick manages to bring this in alongside all the other best elements of the artist from his excellent songwriting capabilities to his flexible and alluring voice. He may be four records in to a nearly decade spanning career but it’s a relief to see that the Wimbledon singer is just as relevant as ever.
-Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)