“I think that’s the scrappiest version I’ve ever done of that in my life.”
That’s the line 21-year old Jamie Treays (aka Jamie T) uses to describe the album version of “Brand New Bass Guitar” to lead off his debut album, Panic Prevention, and I’d say that “scrappy” is an apt description of the album as a whole. He’s been compared to a number of seminal British musicians, from Joe Strummer to Mike Skinner, and those two influences in particular are apparent all over this album. He’s already been critically and commercially well-received over in the motherland, and is making moves in the States with his interesting blend of hip-hop (“So Lonely Was The Ballad”), spaz-dance-punk (“Operation”) and even a little scatting (“If You Got The Money”). The album flows seamlessly with vocal interludes all throughout and a very consistent tone, which might be what makes it so refreshing.
No matter what genre of music he’s dabbling in, there’s no doubt that it is undeniably a Jamie T song. The do-it-yourself attitude that infiltrates from beginning to end infuses it with such a fresh feeling that it’s almost impossible to not smile while listening for the odd references that are dropped all throughout the album, like the UN, or Smirnoff Ice. The subject matter never seems to stray far from the day-to-day life of a young man from South London. Some songs are about how he wasted money on his “piece of shit bass guitar” or, alternatively, about how he wasted money chasing birds. Some are just about how he got wasted. He doesn’t generally tackle big issues, and I like it that way, frankly. Tom Morello can don an acoustic guitar and sing about the issues all he wants, but sometimes, I just want to hear a guy say ” Dah dee doo dahdah dee dah doo dah dahdah domdom dada domdom dom dadee dah doo dahdah dom” over an acoustic bassline and some snare drum.
Not all is perfect, though. Songs like “Dry Off Your Cheeks” and, to a lesser extent, “Alicia Quays” seem slightly out of place here, and disrupt the cohesion of the rest of the album in tone and attitude. They may have been better served on a b-sides collection.
Still, if someone were to ask me what my favorite Brit-garage-punk/hip-hop/reggae album of 2007 was, I’d have to put Panic Prevention in the top 3, at least.