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 Jamie T - Kings & Queens

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PostSubject: Jamie T - Kings & Queens   Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:06 pm

Panic Prevention, Jamie T's sophomore effort, saw him quickly become the nation's new favourite young troubadour. Out of nowhere, he seemed to encapsulate the thoughts of an entire generation whilst also cuddling up to their Mother's with a few uber-catchy melodies and a ton of well-placed hooks. With his debut, Mr Treays showcased the bravado of your typical street urchin, but he maintained a sense of self-awareness and was often self-deprecating. The vulnerability and naivety in songs such as 'Pacemaker' and 'Ike and Tina' ensured that England warmed to him. Those that didn't like him simply didn't get him, but those that did? They had a whole new bunch of anthems to add to their playlist before a night out.

So, the much-hyped second album has hit the shelves and it's somehow managed to find itself second in the album charts - a mean feat for a young lad whose first release was comprised solely of bedroom recordings. But, the burning question - is it any good?

In short, yes. It's very, very good. It's not a massive departure from his previous work, but in truth, it didn't have to be. Kings and Queens might not radically broaden Jamie T's fanbase, but it will certainly solidify it. It opens with the lowbeat and unassuming '368', in which some of Jamie's smoothest lyricism wrestles with fuzzy guitars and one of those 'chipmunk chorus' that will no doubt find itself playing on repeat in your mind for the remainder of the day. Hocus Pocus is a reasonably passable effort, and, whilst not filler, it certainly isn't a stand out moment.

The singles, Sticks 'N' Stones and Chaka Demus, are fantastic. The former is a sure-fire indie dancefloor hit, with Jamie reminiscing of his days as an underage drinker. It's both witty and knowledgable whilst retaining that youthful exuberance that only those of us that spent their earliest weekends pouring vodka into Sprite bottles will truly understand. The latter, Chaka Demus, contains one of the most mind-numbingly brilliant 'woah-oh-oh's since The Futureheads turned Hounds of Love into an anthem for silly haircuts.

The one thing that Panic Prevention was lacking was sentiment. It had nostalgia in spades, but when it came to genuine emotion, Treays had previously preferred to distance himself. However, Kings & Queens allows you time to breathe and has some heartfelt moments that at first seem surprising and out of place, but with repeated listens it becomes apparent that Emily's Heart is one of two examples on this album that Jamie T has all the potential to become something of a mastermind.

Putting an entirely acoustic effort on your album if you literally have no singing voice is one hell of a ballsy move, and this is what Emily's Heart is. But Jamie's way with words is so compelling that it not only avoids becoming a throwaway ditty on an album of bonafide anthems, it actually becomes a highlight. "So for the smiles, and all of the miles that the engine’s done, the further I drive away the closer we become, So if I stay, would you put it away, and forgive this one son? She said Jay, I think you know the answer to your question…" he yearns, broken voice and smile clearly plastered on his face. Such personalisation is heartwarming, and this chummy-closeness with the listener is repeated on album closer 'Jilly Armeen' which sees Jamie using the line "you always went for my friends and not for me" in a way that squeezes genuine sympathy out of you.

But let it be known that this sympathy should not be mistaken for pity, not when Treays can produce songs such as 'Man's Machine'. The firm highlight of the album, it begins with a Billy Bragg-esque live opening, a simple two chord opening and a plodding piano soundtracking the opening of Jamie's tales of 'punks and skins'. Then, a flash of drums and it's off like a rocket, the natural successor to Sheila and a boozed-up anthem that has depth behind its ability to get you to the bar. "Stone, glass, concrete and gravel, all we got to keep us together" he yelps, and it's only a matter of time before the youth of the nation are yelping along with him.

Kings and Queens isn't a perfect record. Songs such as British Intelligence and the aforementioned Hocus Pocus prevent it from being such a thing. But it does progress with the huge amount of potential showcased in Panic Prevention, and then improves upon it. What Kings and Queens offers is an artist that has the obvious ability to appeal to the general public whilst still being good. You get the feeling that Jamie T's back catalogue will do nothing but improve, and with any luck he could...whisper this now... become the artist of his generation....


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