Panic Prevention, by Jamie T
Suggested by Ed Ross
Panic Prevention is about Youth Culture.
What the hell is “youth culture”…? Is it Pokemon and crisps?
When this album was released, a mere thirteen years ago, it appears that “youth culture” was a catch-all for a dustbin full of tawdry horror. But I love a good Binman story, so I’m excited to jump into the skip and have a good rummage.
There’s gold to be found if you’re happy to get your hands dirty.
Panic Prevention slaps you in the face from the start of track one. The first thing you notice is Jamie’s voice. It’s expressive, bombastic, mannered and engaging. It’s also a little irritating. Heavily accented with a broad London swagger, it vivifies the candid lyrics immensely. As I’ve mentioned before, I love a common story, and Jamie T is cut from this same cloth. There’s something essentially British about the verse: not Stephen Fry or Cotswolds Britain, but the street-clad rawness of urban development, full of one-legged pigeons eating fag ends from murky puddles. It’s strangely uplifting, too, packed with humour and pathos like duelling banjos. Right up my vomit-stained alley, I can tell you.
Musically, Panic Prevention underpins the story with some style. Unlike Kae Tempest’s remarkable Everybody Down, the songs on this album actually feel like songs, rather than spoken pieces with subdued backing accompaniment. This is a mercy of sorts, as the musicality pairs well with the vocal style, rubbing a few edges off the irritation and presenting the finished product as an engaging whole. While it could detract, it does not. It heightens.
Another aspect of note is the range of musical styles on offer. There’s a lot of Arctic Monkeys here, a hint of Blur… anything with a local voice. The album has great range, a vibrant variety that surrounds a solid spine of indie guitar. Songs such as Ike and Tina, or my favourite Sheila, seem to fizz along, and I’ve a lot of time for the high humour in Brand New Bass Guitar. The only misstep – a rather ambling bonus track called Down In The Subway – fails to bring things down, as at least it showcases bravado and an aversion to sitting still.
Jamie T is a vital and vibrant voice, and I’m looking forward to discovering more of his work. I’d almost give this an eight, but I’m settling on a solid 7/10. The irritation I feel from his voice isn’t quite sanded down by the rest of the work on show.