Jamie T: Return Of 'The One-Man Arctic Monkey'?

by Will Cafferky

In an interview with ‘Topman’ a few months ago, Tribes front man Johnny Lloyd revealed he had been working on a collaboration with Jamie T for the South-London artist’s long-awaited new album. For many, myself included, his recent hiatus from the world of music has been remarkably frustrating.

Growing up as a wannabe-indie teenager meant that along with the Arctic Monkeys, Jamie T’s first two albums were my musical bread and butter. The similarity between the two doesn’t stop there: both produced offensively brilliant debut albums, only to then match, if not exceed, expectations with their follow ups. Furthermore lyrically, both managed to seamlessly present the day-to-day lives of a generation in a manner that is both matter-a-fact, and bizarrely poetic. Whilst the differences in style and substance are apparent, both prided themselves on a rough ‘house’ style to their music, as well as unapologetically colloquial vocals.

For those of you who are not familiar with Jamie T, for examples of the parity between him the Arctic Monkeys I sincerely recommend both Sheila and If You Got The Money from his opening album, and Emily’s Heart and Sticks ‘n’ Stones from his second. Each represents his remarkably diverse talent, from the classically acoustic (Emily’s Heart); to pacey jangling guitars (If You Got The Money, Sticks ‘n’ Stones) - all the way through to the synth and aggressively quick-fire vocals of Sheila.

It is arguably here however, that the similarities begin to fade. The release of the Emily’s Heart single in 2010, which also featured a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Atlantic City, was Jamie T’s most recent notable musical contribution. Meanwhile, the Arctic Monkeys have (commercially speaking) gone from strength to strength.

Nonetheless, this recent interview with Johnny Lloyd has offered a glimmer of nostalgic hope on the horizon. Lloyd has claimed that the new material has an “angry, slow punk” feel to it which bodes particularly well. Whilst I am disproportionately excited about the prospect of a new album, I sincerely hope that he doesn’t seek to replicate some of his earlier work. The lyrical and even musical quality of Jamie’s first two albums was partially drawn from their authenticity. His first album, Panic Prevention, was a reflection on his struggle with frequent panic attacks, whilst the second bore all the hallmarks of the frustration of a man in his early twenties. Any attempt to return identically to those subjects may seem unauthentic.

Therefore it is with cautious, agitated, hope that I look forward to an angrier, slower Jamie T in keeping with his supposedly frustrating absence from the music scene. Whilst he may have been sidelined by the starry ambition of Sheffield’s finest, there’s still hope that Jamie T may once again find his feet and stand toe-to-toe with the Arctic Monkeys once more - and I for one can’t wait to see if he does.