It’s been six years since we last heard from Jamie T, and on The Theory Of Whatever, he proves why there’s nobody else quite like him. Since he released Panic Prevention in 2007, a string of copycat artists have come along, but nobody has managed to topple West London’s poet laureate.
He was only a kid when he released his debut album, and through his records, we’ve heard him evolve into a 36-year-old. Treays was 30 when he released his fourth record, Trick, and the world is a distinctively different place than it was back then. Naturally, a lot has changed in his life too.
Although Treays was radio silent since he finished touring in 2017 until he returned to the stage this year, he never stopped working. The Theory Of Whatever was built in his home studio, and he ended up with over 160 songs that he’d amassed over the last five years, but for a significant amount of time, he felt creatively directionless hence the lengthy absence. “I was struggling to find my direction with the record for a few years, really,” he admitted in the album’s press release.
The result of his slaving away over the last five years is The Theory Of Whatever, which acts as a scrapbook of thoughts and feelings over this transformative time. The multi-faceted sides of Jamie T shine on this record. If you want raucous punky anthems, ‘Between The Rocks’ has you covered, while ‘Talk Is Cheap’ is firmly in the acoustic mould of ‘Emily’s Heart’.
On the aforementioned, ‘Talk Is Cheap’, Treays sounds like a broken man as he admits to being “rudderless” while talking frankly about relying on cocaine to cope with a devastating break-up, and his honest brand of lyricism is as infectious as ever.
‘Old Republican’ is a soul-baring track which finds Treays lamenting his behaviour, which landed him in an unwelcomed position of pining for his old life with his former partner. It’s a layered effort which builds up with strings before erupting, and props are due to former Maccabee Hugo White on production duties.
The piano-led closing track, ‘50,000 Unmarked Bullets’, is a heartfelt cry for help that finds Treays again battling his demons as he reminisces about being outgoing and becoming a shadow of his former self which makes for an emotional end to the record.
The spacey opener, ’90s Cars’, sees Jamie flex his rapping muscles and also has a touch of Baxter Dury thrown into it. ‘Keying Lamborghinis’ is also in a similar experimental sonic territory but goes further, and the unconventional love letter is the most out-there song he’s made to date.
‘A Million And One Ways To Die’ is a throttling guitar anthem that needs to be turned 11 to enjoy at full pleasure as Treays exposes his punky edge. It also veers its devilish head on the spiky ‘British Hell’ that takes fire at the self-inflicted wounds the country has suffered in recent years. Meanwhile, the lead single, ‘The Old Style Raiders’, and the raucous ‘Between The Rocks’ are a pair of mosh-pit-ready bangers, and underneath the riffs, the lyrics are laden with sincerity.
‘St. George Wharf Tour’ is Treays at his most poetic as he has an imaginary conversation with his former partner and delivers the emotionally heavy lines, “Vauxhall high-rise life, Are you living in the clouds? Or on the A3205? It’s hard to say, But I hope you’re happy now.”
After a six-year absence, The Theory Of Whatever is a reminder of Jamie T’s brilliance and why the British music scene is healthier with his presence. On the new record, Treays retrospectively works his way through his demons with unflinching honesty, which makes it his strongest offering since Panic Prevention. Fingers crossed, he doesn’t keep us waiting until 2028 for album number six.