The Wimbledon days are over, there’ll never be another Panic Prevention and it’s time to stop mourning for Jamie T of old. All that’s okay though. Jamie Treays is 30 now, putting it at nearly a decade since that landmark record. He may croon now and play O2 Academies, but at heart he’s still the same renegade troubadour. Too often old Jamie T material is retconned, stripped off the darker themes and remembered solely for slap-dash exuberance. This youthful sheen was effective in masking a lot of pain, and as his records progress they become more adept at processing this. Trick is the next chapter in this, a brilliant collection quite content with being impossible to pin down.
Trick comes crashing to life with the divisive ‘Tinfoil Boy’, product of sessions in Detroit and RATM influences –though it sounds more like Slaves. Focusing on the unravelling of a heroin addict, it’s obnoxious and heavy yet betrays nothing of Trick’s content; it’s exciting how Jamie T releases are still ‘exciting’ under the weight of hype.
Treays describes 2014’s Carry On The Grudge as writing with his hand tied behind his back, in an attempt to change the playing field after being away for so long. Many were alarmed by the dive into borderline Cash folk, so they’ll find comfort in Trick essentially being a successor to Logic-driven masterpiece Kings & Queens: ‘Dragon Bones’ rolls to the beat of ‘Chaka Demus’ and ‘Drone Strike’ is the fucked-up successor to ‘Castro Dies’. Admittedly the record lollops all over the place, launching off that 2nd album as a platform for rock exploration. The embrace of a Combat Rock sound is a delight, especially on the rollicking ‘Tescoland’ and the comically yobbish ‘Robin Hood’, whilst Joan Of Arc can’t shake the feeling of Shadow Puppets doing Brit-Pop. Thankfully Trick doesn’t come off as an identity crisis, more a sum of all Treays’ parts. Nothing on it is less than brilliant, it may just take a few listens to come around to.
One way Trick is certain to satisfy the old order is the return of Jamie T the rapper. He still flexes that breakneck flow that once ducked and weaved through the rat-runs of London, though it’s satisfying to see it evolve into something more formidable. Political aggravation turns caustic on ‘Police Tapes’, and Treays is electric for the insane bombast of ‘Drone Strike’ – the latter’s opening snippet is a morbid riff on the 2007 Baghdad air-strike and proves just how sharp Treays still is.
Leering from the cover is ‘Solomon Eagle’, a 17th century preacher warning London of damnation just before the Great Plague and Fire of London. Treays assumes the role of the titular Eagle, spitting pure venom and envisioning England in ruin. Like the fanatic prophet, Treays seems to believe that we deserve this fate: “This is God giving up on us.”
Trick has a number of rose-tinted moments played out in rock’n’roll capers but the present is sobering. Every time Treays stops to think, Trick becomes a bleak affair that refuses to grant a happy ending.