At this point, Jamie Lenman has carved out a healthy-sized, eclectic and boundary-pushing discography as a solo artist, to the point where describing him as “ex-Reuben frontman” is now reductive.
Following on from radically reinventing his favourite songs on last year’s ‘Shuffle’, Lenman has returned with a new mini-album, ‘King Of Clubs’, adding more to a mightily prolific last few years.
We couldn’t have asked for a more immediate opener than ‘Summer Of Discontent (The Future Is Dead)’. Comparisons to Rage Against The Machine may seem surface-level, but it brings the same bouncing groove, with rapid-fire verses from Pengshui‘s Illaman making for a righteous, fist-pumping collaboration. It’s certainly one of the most explicitly political songs to Lenman‘s name. The angst is palpable, and will continue across this release.
‘Sleep Mission’ has another spidery guitar riff, with yet more underlying anger and frustration. But, as we all know, Lenman is the jack of all trades; ‘Like Me Better’ has an irresistible groove and hooks aplenty, and the multi-layered harmonies hang in the air and really define the song.
‘I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend’ is where he once again succeeds at seething hatred. We have fast-tempo aggression, and an unpredictable middle-section that wouldn’t be out of place on Reuben‘s 2007 swansong ‘In Nothing We Trust’, complete with lyrics that leave no second guessing, and perhaps you want to scream the words at that acquaintance you just can’t wait to ditch from your life.
Even when we get Lenman firing on all fronts, we reach a peak with ‘The Road To Right’, an indisputable banger that would be a number-one single in a just world. Every section of this song is arguably a chorus, and the multi-layered vocals at the end again work a treat.
‘Kill Me’ still manages to spring surprises. It’s probably the most twisted and deranged song that Lenman has conjured up to date, with a pre-chorus that sounds unlike anything he’s ever done prefacing a furious, scream-filled head banger.
With one last card to play, the title-track and closer is a brooding instrumental that closes things out, calming down proceedings somewhat after the rage that’s preceded it.
When artists release music frequently, it often shows that they do so because they can rather than the fact that they should, but with Jamie Lenman being one of the best (and unfortunately, under-appreciated) songwriters that these islands have ever produced, it’s little wonder that even a stop-gap mini-release like this is still pushing the envelope. As an artist, Jamie Lenman‘s output still remains beyond the reach of many.