Release Date: Sep 2, 2016
Record label: Virgin EMI
It wasn’t until Jamie T returned in 2014 after a largely self-imposed five-year absence that many realised just how much the Wimbledon troubadour had been missed. There was almost a collective sigh of relief when he finally surfaced again with Carry On The Grudge, which found the then 28-year-old in a completely different place to the brash twentysomething who first made a name for himself with angsty anthems like Sheila. Tracks such as Don’t You Find and Love Is Only A Heartbeat Away showed Jamie T at his most vulnerable and candid, while also providing a timely reminder a what a brilliant storyteller he is.
Jamie T.'s fourth long-player is a return to the infectious and rebellious spirit of his first two records. Trick is also his best work to date. Drawing upon a wide swath of influences -- half the fun of the album is catching all the sonic allusions -- he twists each one to fit into his genre-blurring vision, resulting in an exciting and insanely catchy listen.
With every Jamie Treays album, the same feelings: I’ve heard something like this before; this one’s a bit overwhelming; I have no idea what he’s on about; what is that weird sound?; why can’t he sing properly?; did he really just say that?; I don’t mind the singing on this one; I quite like that weird sound; this bit is pretty good; I’ve never heard anything like that before. With each release, though, the singer-rapper-guitarist-producer-songwriter grows more impressive. His last, Carry on the Grudge, had some good songs but was a touch tidy and conventional, a step away from the junkyard rap-pop pioneered on his first two albums.
Well, Jamie T isn’t messing around, is he? After a well-documented hiatus a few years ago resulted in the release of his third album Carry On the Grudge, it’s taken him only two years to release his new album, Trick. It’s certainly interesting to see how it’ll hold up. Is it rushed? Or is there just enough inspiration in him at point that delaying the release would be pointless? The strength of comeback single ‘Tinfoil Boy’ certainly hints at promise.
When Jamie T (Jamie Treays) disappeared in 2010, there were murmurs that we had possibly heard the last from him for good. After all, his phenomenal debut, Panic Prevention, sampled anxiety guides, and Treays has always been vocal about avoiding the spotlight, so it wasn’t implausible that the pressure had become too great. It would have been a tragedy.
Jamie T’s comeback album ‘Carry on the Grudge’, in retrospect, was signposted as his foray into “serious songwriting”. There were flashes of the man we knew and loved, that socially-conscious rap in a broken accent, but they were drowned out by the sensible scholar who, on the likes of ‘Don’t You Find’, was more or less crooning. On ‘Trick’, his quickfire full-length follow-up, that refinement has, for the most part, fallen by the wayside.
Pop might love a reinvention, but it was hard to get excited by the one attempted by Jamie Treays, AKA Jamie T, on 2014’s Carry on the Grudge. Gone were the gobby street-poet pronouncements of his first two, well received albums, replaced by something closer to introspective sad boy indie. Treays described that shift in style as “like tying my hand behind my back and trying to write with my left hand”, and at times it certainly felt like the work of an artist holding something back.
It’s strange to think that Jamie T, south London’s wayward punk prince, a British Beastie Boy with a dog-eared copy of Betjeman’s collected works in his backpack, is now 30 years old. When he first emerged from a Wimbledon skate park as a bleary-eyed teen, his music was the embodiment of urban youthfulness: all boozing in the park, crushes on your mates’ girlfriends and sneaky spliffs on the train platform. Sure, he’s by no means old now, but Jamie is officially a proper adult – the kind of person that Sheila and her gang of underage drinkers would probably gob at in the street.
He might insist he feels “tricked into waking up”, but Jamie T’s return to the stage after a five year absence was one of the most assured in recent memory. Returning in 2014 with the most critically adored album of his career, Carry on the Grudge swapped the radio samples and hip-hop swagger of debut Panic Prevention for jagged, punk-inspired indie. Few comebacks had ever felt so assured.