It’s hard not to herald the return of the snaggle-toothed cherub Jamie T from his five year sabbatical without trumpets and fanfair. After Panic Prevention and Kings & Queens, he could have spat a mouthful of choral ballads out and still received rave-reviews yet Carry On The Grudge is a gritty collection. From first listen it’s clear that Jamie has grown up, but on tracks like ‘Zombie’ and ‘Rabbit Hole’ he doesn’t sound too sure about what this process requires. His mile a minute lyrical style is still apparent on The Clash homage of ‘Zombie’, while it lies next to its binary bedfellow of ‘Murder Of Crows’, a soothing lullaby. This contrast of new styles holding onto old can be heard throughout.
As the music chops and changes, newer dark murmurings can be heard in songs like ‘The Prophet’. Where singing has replaced Jamie’s slack-jawed, drop consonant, slurred vowel rapping, this change combined with the drop in tempo unveils melancholia. A strain that was always apparent in his previous albums but was carefully resguised and lost in rapid-fire tales and hip hop beats, the sounds slowly bounce and flow from the bluesy ‘Mary Lee’ to the down right grunge of ‘Peter’.
Lost love, self destruction and meagre surroundings no longer breed humour and cheekiness as before, but morph into poignancy. The boyhood chase down gritty ‘Hampstead Wick’ of old, is continued on down life’s fatalistic passages in this album. The wordplay follows this transition, “hold onto what you’ve got” sings Jamie, “you might loose it fast in the dark days”.
Piecing apart his older sounds with the fine clinical hand of a surgeon, sewing up some boyhood influences Jamie sterilises his sound with a mature antiseptic. Carry On The Grudge is still capable of a hoarse sing-a-song with the lads after some lager and pork scratchings, like his previous releases. But this time around it feels as though after the sing-a-long, Jamie stumbled home contemplated life and drowned his sorrows still further before picking up a pen and paper. Haunting, poignant and not quite right, this album reflects Jamie T’s maturing in all it’s confusing forms.