Jamie T - Kings & Queens
It's been around three years since the release of Jamie Treays honestly depicted, Mercury Prize nominated, adolescent-rambling debut. A wonderfully rough, anti-sugar coated record that highlighted the perks of dingy corner boozing and runaway teenage scamps - it seems that the impact 'Panic Prevention' made on British music may have gone slightly unnoticed and undernourished, because lets face it, the brik-a-brak near-rap effort solidified a skatty future of beloved new-age English eccentricity.
I fell in love with London after hearing 'Panic Prevention', and not the sort of contrived, fad-skipping, trend-hopping, fake-painted imagery of a no-hoper Arcadian, Bohemian dream that fabricated poets of Brick Lane transcend. It was more the grime, the dirt and the gutter of backstreet boozers and unrequited teenage love affairs - a twisted Romanticism of youthful lust that peaks to the stars and falls back to the sewers of the infected streets.
Where the Arctic's whimsically outlined our love for weekends on the streets knocking back bargain shots and chasing the various mini-skirt clad teases of the tiles, Treays detailed a different side of these activities. Drugs and so forth. When he rattled out "Max said beans are like the touch of God" on his debut I thought to myself, Jamie T knows what's going on - fuck me, I hope he can keep this up.
And now, here it is - 'Kings And Queens'. A spit'n'chewed mosaic of refined patchwork rusticity, Treays has returned wiser with a surpassing gaggle of more guts and flaunting fuckability to produce possibly the best record of this year.
I think what we truly love about Jamie T's records is his stripped down, vulnerable honesty. At what first appears to be the juvenile skits of a cheeky capital inhabitant soon transcends into mature pin-pointed wisdom of a humble street dwelling veteran, much as is first dotted genuinely in album opener '368' as Treays slurs "It's the only way that your getting out, if you hang around boys round here they'll bring you down".
After the rushed rabble of recent e.p title track, 'Sticks 'n' Stones', comes an anthemic back-in-the-day punk influenced epic punch of chorus driven brilliance, 'The Man's Machine'. Its distinctly urbanised old-school skins'n'punks opening sample sets the foundations of what we've come to know as Treays main influential vein. It's a big song that completely contrasts the inner-city romanticism of the acoustic simplicity heard in the beautiful 'Emily's Heart' that, if for only an instance, breaks the up-tempo rush-around knee jerking speed heard on the majority of this record.
'Chakus Demus', as you probably already know, keeps with Treays now ever-so well attained sound while 'Castro Dies' embodies a clean-cut dark sense of U.K hip hop with some shadowy bleeps and beats and the quickly spit distinct vocals of some imperfectly delivered, yet ever-so perfect, vocals that trickle above the hookiest of hooks.
To once again confirm the aptitude and endless capabilities of this curb-side troubador all we can do is listen to the last three tracks of this record. 'Earth, Wind And Fire' hops like dashed pebbles over a pit of eerie filth, quickly switched up on 'British Intellegence' that pops and drops like any hit single from 'Panic Prevention' and finally, this eclectic affair is concluded by 'Jilly Armeen'. An affectionate album closer of dainty lovability and softheartedness, it's the sort of song that we've always wanted Treays to write - a simplistic, hook-laden penchant that's a little more gracefully delivered than his previous acoustic ditties such as 'Back In The Game' and the acoustic demo of 'If You've Got The Money'.
Treays influences on his second effort have remained much as they were on his debut. There's a gritty Clash-like ethos, some Sham 69 aggy over-the-top acceleration muddled in with a distinct scroll of 80's ska, a well put-together duo of John Martyn meets Mick Jones meets Mike Skinner dreamy acoustic pennings, but as always, and possibly most importantly, he's not taken this whole fucking dog and pony show too seriously - and that could be the secret.