Published on November 10th, 2013 | by Ben Adsett0
Jamie Lenman – Muscle Memory
Today is an awesome day, I am finally sat listening to Jamie Lenman the singer from Reuben’s long awaited solo record, and what’s even better is it’s a double album.
Like a lot of my peers, and fellow alternative music journalists, back in the noughties I was completely infatuated with a British Rock band called Reuben. In three albums they pretty much lead me into a head on love with music and I now spend far to much time talking and writing about ‘the next big thing’.
The first of this ambitious double album is about as subtle as a musical kick in the nuts. It embraces the heavy side of the third and final Reuben studio album whilst taking it forward and turning everything up in intensity. There is no mistaking this is a furiously brash hardcore record full of ferocious guitars screeching with feedback, a drum kit being seemingly beaten to death and the vocals from the darkest depths of Lenman’s chest.
Despite being an undoubtedly brash ten tracks that flow into each other without apology or a space to breathe, there are so many subtle hints of beauty in this record. At times these are created by clever word plays or observations and at other times there are the tiniest hints of feedback or the perfect note which put a little simile on your face.
This first album was a huge surprise to me as foolishly I was expecting JL to fall into the traditional singer songwriter mould like previous front men Frank Turner, Mike Scott, etc. and just pick up an acoustic guitar and write some soul searching songs. JL is never one to do what’s expected of him and with this release I am so happy he is so unafraid to make the music he wants to.
Disc two is almost the polar opposite of the primal first installment of ‘Muscle Memory’. This is clear from the very first note, even before the vocal the unmistakeable sound of a banjo kicks in and that ex-front man solo album sounds like it is on the cards. That is not the album this develops into, although there is a little bit of soul searching it’s hidden behind some clever metaphors and moments where JL almost adopts a character.
Vocally this second part is equally a development from previous song writing and performing and once more every second is full of the individual wordplay and vocal style that makes this effort unmistakeably a Jamie Lenman effort.
Musically this is an effort that combines a potted history of every tender Reuben moment, which has become a far more personal journey. There are some wonderfully subtle tools which have really grabbed my attention, from the ingenious vocal balance of some of the harmonies, to the simple musical compositions full of hidden layers. It is incredibly hard to imagine hearing this without instantly falling in love with the word play and musicianship especially when it is backed by a voice which embraces the subtlety, fragility and openness of the every lyric.
I complain about music almost as much as I talk about it with love in my voice (or words) and I really think this is the record to kick British rock music forward and is genuinely one of the best pieces of modern hardcore I have listened to this year. On the other hand it reminds the singer songwriters, who seem to be loosing their way and finding themselves in stadiums, that often less is more. Considering these are debut releases this is such a massive way to introduce yourself and I think this may well be one of the best records I have heard in a very long time.
I have no idea how this double album is going to compute into a live performance ,when Jamie takes this record out on tour at the start of next month, but I can’t wait to see it come together.
I would expect it looks a little bit like this video