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Jamie T - Kings & Queens [Album]

Jamie T - Kings & Queens [Album]


Review 8777 Views
Last Edited by: Jack Stovin December 29th, 2009.

Since the Libertines first dropped anchor with their debut album back in 2002 it's become almost de rigueur for British indie acts to sing jaunty pop songs about y'know like everyday life and stuff. Not that it's a bad thing (hell Ray Davies turned it into an art-form) it's just a shame that so few of Doherty's acolytes have managed to articulate the plight of the everyday man as eloquently as mess-rs Davies, Weller or even Parklife era Albarn. Arctic Monkeys came closer than most with the grim, northern romanticism of their first two albums however now that Arctic Monkeys have moved on to bigger and better things it's been left up to Wimbledon native Mr T (sorry couldn't resist) to pick up the slack and take the reigns as the new voice of lower-middle-class, British suburban youth.

His mercury nominated debut "Panic Prevention" was a mixed bag which managed to combine elements of punk, ska and lo-fi hip-hop into a combination which put him forward almost as the British equivalent to the Beastie Boys. This time around however our Jamie has higher aspirations in mind and (in part anyway) the songs to match those aspirations. He supposedly scrapped a whole albums worth of navel-gazing acoustic music before starting work on this sophomore effort (though delicate acoustic ballads such as 'Emily's Heart' and 'Jilly Armeen' suggest maybe the best of the aborted album was imported over) and the decision has paid dividends. The man christened Jamie Treays doesn't have a strong enough voice to carry the few solely melodic tracks here so no doubt an albums worth of acoustic ballads would have exposed his weaknesses. Kings and Queens however manages to display his numerous strengths (literate, engaging story telling, a way with simple yet memorable hooks and a keen producers ear) in abundance.

It's a truly eclectic album and all the better for it, the pots and pans percussion on opener '368' is joined by an infectious, helium voiced chorus hook which leads into the no-nonsense brit-pop of 'Hocus Pocus' before delivering hit single 'Sticks N Stone', the distilled essence of 'Panic Prevention' captured in one perfectly formed pop song. Along the way we're also treated to a vintage, musky trip-hop on 'Earth, Wind & Fire', filmic world music vibes on 'Spider's Web' and cheeky-chappy punk on 'British Intelligence.' That it all manages to sound so varied whilst retaining a specific identity is truly to Treays's credit.

Of course by the very nature of it's kitchen sink aesthetic when it's bad it's VERY bad indeed. 'Castro Dies' is a truly dreadful take on the darker side of Eminem's oeuvre and 'Chaka Dreams' basically just matches a listless rap to 'The Banana Splits' theme tune. Overall though 'Kings and Queens is an accomplished transitional record that reveals Jamie T as anything but a one-trick pony. If he learns to reign in his less love-able quirks then we could well have a truly eccentric, classic British songwriter in our midst.


1. 368
2. Hocus Pocus
3. Sticks N' Stones
4. The Man's Machine
5. Emily's Heart
6. Chaka Demus
7. Spider's Web
8. Castro Dies
9. Earth, Wind & Fire
10. British Intelligence
11. Jilly Armeen

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