Back in 2008, when the rather abrupt and out-of-the-blue announcement that Reuben would be no more came to be, a void filled the British underground rock circuit. A year after releasing their third album, ‘In Nothing We Trust’, it finally looked like the Aldershot trio were on the up to finally receive the recognition they deserve. To many, despite a legion of great British bands emerging and breaking through since then, that void could still not be filled. Even Freeze The Atlantic, a band formed in part by drummer Guy Davis and bassist Jon Pearce, failed to completely fill the vacancy.
Fast-forward to September 2013 and, just as sudden as the news of their demise, frontman and primary songwriter, Jamie Lenman, announces his arrival back on the music scene in the form of a two-disc album, ‘Muscle Memory’. With a bipolar-like approach in delivery, the first disc focusing on brutish heavy workings and the second leaning towards the softer and generally more accessible spectrum, the Poirot look-a-like clearly has a lot to bring to the table. Still, the question remains, will it fill the empty space left by Reuben‘s disbanding? In short: yes.
Though bearing some similarities to the general Reuben blueprint, mainly their ‘In Nothing We Trust’ era on tracks like ‘A Plague On Both Your Houses’ and ‘Shower Of Scorn’, ‘Muscle Memory’ holds an identity of its own. The split areas of focus play very much like the 2005 double-album ‘In Your Honour’ by Foo Fighters done right, except the first disc here is a more bastardised approach to the ‘rock’ side and the second disc is a far more nurtured and interesting ‘acoustic’ side.
Indeed, what we see here is Jamie Lenman completely expanding the borders of his already impressive creative plataeu, entering heavier territory than we ever saw in Reuben and experimenting with far more sounds and styles. Throughout both discs, we’re given a barrage of Lenman‘s musical talents, ranging from mind-melting tech metal (‘One Of My Eyes Is A Clock’), pummeling thrash riffage (‘The Six Fingered Hand’), finger-clicking big band (‘Pretty Please’), a shrill post-hardcore bite (‘No News Is Good News’), a comedic sea shanty (‘A Day In The Life’), a bouncy country number ideal to soundtrack a car chase (‘If You Have To Ask You’ll Never Know’) and some Coverge-esque snarling buzzsaw punk (‘Fizzy Blood’).
As a whole, ‘Muscle Memory’ marks a great relief for Reuben fans wanting some form of new material, but also a great first step into what could be a strong solo career for Jamie Lenman. Now going into writing and recording with an almost no bars approach, Lenman can truly flex his music muscle and, as a result, provide us with an album where there’ll be at least one song to hand that anyone will enjoy. Prepare to see ‘Muscle Memory’ as a late entry for many Album of the Year charts and features.
Written by Zach Redrup