There has been five years of silence from Jamie T, and the expectations for his comeback couldn’t be higher. His latest singles and triumphant Reading Festival surprise proved he can survive, but this new album is what he needs to thrive.
Carry On the Grudge fades in magnificently with ‘Limits Lie’ and ‘Don’t You Find’, an atmospheric duo of darker, slower sounding songs, capturing the essence of his retreat from the limelight.
The album is filled with bleak and morbid imagery from the start; “I’m carrying my casket” and “sweatin’ in a carcass”. His sorrow tinged half sung delivery flavours the album early on with a mournful and more mature sound. This changes when the deceivingly slow starting ‘Zombie’ sinks its teeth in. It’s as insanely infectious as anything released this year.
‘The Prophet’ exemplifies Jamie’s skill with turning scuzzy episodes into dirtily poetic stories. He says suggestions of what to “can’t be any worse than what I’ve been up to”. But what has he been up to? In this silent five year long phase of disquietude he wrote one hundred and eighty songs, mostly unfinished, clearly the best making it to the record.
Jamie T has always had a way of painting such vivid scenes and characters with his words. On the touching ‘Mary Lee’ he details a regretful break up with brilliant depiction and sweet folky musical platform. This new folk influence returns in the mature acoustic ‘Love Is Only A Heartbeat Away’.
He goes on to describe another character much more introspectively, a persona, living in the depths of his mind. “Peter don’t believe in love/ Peter doesn’t like this song” he roars over a darker angst filled punk track. The dirty, noisy sound fits the theme of inescapable inner turmoil perfectly. The heavy guitars contrast with much of his repertoire, just as the quieter moments of the album do, but it only adds to his palette.
Musically, it’s more experimental for him, but you wouldn’t expect an album that took this long to sound the same all the way through. Tracks like ‘Rabbit Hole’ and ‘Zombie’ come closest to typical hit singles, but that’s not important when the standard of the tracks are all so high. Carry On the Grudge is an excellent body of work that confronts his darkest fears and shows off his blatantly brilliant song writing.