Post-hardcore polymath Jamie Lenman’s career has taken some very interesting turns since his departure from Reuben. After a five year break from music, his first solo album Muscle Memory was a double album filled half with delicate country/folk and half with abrasive, harsh hardcore. Now, he returns with another full length, Devolver, an album whose singles started to be released in January.
These singles, ‘Mississippi’, ‘Fast Car’, ‘Waterloo Teeth’ and ‘Hardbeat’, are all good singles independent of the album, however listening to the album in full they gain much more context. The industrial stomp of ‘Mississippi’ is a perfect counterpart to its preceding song, ‘Comfort Animal’, and ‘Hardbeat’ is a natural album opener with its slow build and layered instrumentation.
There are also Easter eggs on the album for past fans to pick up on. The aforementioned ‘Mississippi’ references the refrain from Muscle Memory’s ‘Shotgun House’, and Lenman’s trademark railings against the music industry are again present in songs such as ‘Body Popping’ and ‘Hell in a Fast Car’.
“Rock and Roll is all about the fresh and new, why would you do something someone else did do?” – something of a mission statement for Lenman, and he certainly fulfils it across Devolver. The eclecticism and range of styles covered by one man is an achievement to be marvelled at, and no two songs on this record are too similar. The deadpan delivery and plaintive instrumentation of ‘Body Popping’, which relies on the subtleties of the background shifting behind the vocals to keep it moving, is a standout moment on the record and unlike anything else Lenman has written before.
Muscle Memory was designed to showcase two vastly different sides of Jamie Lenman’s personality, but Devolver reveals even more, and in a much more focused, concise way. That the huge grooves of a song like ‘I Don’t Know Anything’ can sit with the same song’s delicate, self deprecating sentiment is proof that Jamie Lenman’s songwriting is only getting stronger, and hopefully the quality of Devolver will ensure that he stays a vital part of our scene for years to come. In a world where bands such as Black Peaks and Arcane Roots, who have taken large influence from Lenman, are becoming the hottest prospects on rock’s landscape, the timing is perfect for Lenman’s return to the spotlight at the highest quality. If all is right in the world, Jamie Lenman will be on huge stages before long.