In January 2009, Jamie Treays released an official video for Fire Fire a new song he’d recently recorded in secret. Speaking to NME at the time, he said that it was not going to be a single for the second LP, but merely a thank you present to the fans for being so patient. Fire Fire and the subsequent release of the second LP, Kings and Queens ended a haitus of two years for Jamie T since the acclaimed debut, Panic Prevention.
Cut forward to July 2014 and after 58 months since Kings and Queens was released, Jamie T came out of the shadows to announce an intimate three-date tour, and the release of a new LP. The latter proclamation made on Zane Lowe’s evening radio show, moments after Lowe premiered Don’t You Find - a new single by Jamie.
If in 2009, the punk poet could spare himself a new song and video as a thank you to his fans, what then after five years out of the limelight, did 2014 have in store? Well, when the media-sphere was greeted with Don’t You Find in July, there were certainly mixed feelings. With a slow, melancholic melody and a refined studio sound, it seemed Treays might have moved away from the wavering tempos and drunken-ballads he had become synonymous with, a sound that many angry adolescents had found solace in; myself included. Though it may have antagonised one or two fans, the single turned out a well-crafted pop tune that stays with its listener for hours after, a tune that marks a thoughtful return.
By August Carry On The Grudge was named the title of the record and the second single, Zombie, was released. A title and a song that would open the gate for the sentimental fans to return to Jamie’s side. For many, the title hints at an absence of closure and a lack of movement away from his Noughties roots, and the track Zombie is as infectiously upbeat as So Lonely Was The Ballad or Sheila was and perhaps lyrically, just as ridiculous. The record was certainly not going to be a cold concept album, but what else the record held was anybody’s guess.
Well, it has now been a week since the likely lad released Carry On The Grudge, and as the mania surrounding the release has come and passed, what exactly is there to be said about the album? Firstly, opener Limits Lie is a great summative song for Jamie T. In it we hear an onslaught of post-punk style guitar lines cut with Strummer-esque vocal spats that for me really showcase the frenetic style that make him great.
Turn On The Light exercises Libertines-y chord progression and experimentation but in a subdued and deeply introspective song. “Friends all betray each other and I’m just another lover to a friend” is one of many powerful lyrics in an angsty song about city life. Similar in style, They Told Me It Rained is a hark back to the early noughties and a song that could easily have featured on an early Maccabees EP.
If you were a fan of sing-along ballad Sticks N Stones, you will like The Prophet, a raw tune you could imagine singing to yourself at the end of an evening of gin and heartbreak. Mary Lee offers us a melodic blues song with an interesting keyboard sound, but lacks the conviction found in the opening tracks. Similarly Trouble fuses Ska riffs with a funk style song that unfortunately fails to really work. These are the low points of the album, but they do show us the diverse range of influences that has allowed Jamie T to progress and mature with his music.
Love Is Only a Heartbeart Away is a really well crafted song that continues the introspective melancholic themes of the album with a stripped back folk tune, before being met halfway through with an accompanying string section that rounds it off well. Personal highlights for me are in Rabbit Hole and Peter, where the MC-Clash style of Treays work powerfully. Finally, Murder of Crows demonstrates how Jamie T can conjure up a melody from the darkest and most abstract places.
Carry On the Grudge is a fantastic record that shows off his incredible song writing abilities and if anything, his desire for career longevity that sets him apart from his Noughties contemporaries. There are moments where Jamie tries to stray too far from what makes him a success, but overall this a complete return to form for the punk poet and will certainly be drunkenly shouted over many a pair of speakers for some time to come.