Jamie Lenman – Devolver

Though adored by the few and ignored by the many, it’s hard to see a future in which Jamie Lenman is not eventually revered as a cult hero. The Reuben frontman has been so consistently brilliant, it is surely only a matter of time before said many cotton on to the fact he is one of the greatest songwriters Britain has ever produced, and new album ‘Devolver’ goes a long way to cementing that reputation. Ditching the schizophrenic double-disc approach of debut ‘Muscle Memory’, which pitted furious hardcore with plaintive folk, the follow-up takes a more straightforward approach, blending the two sides of Lenman’s coin like a cocktail rather than splitting them like water and oil. Having proved he can master grunge, alt-rock, Americana and white-noise terror, Lenman opts now for synths, shrouding the joyful simplicity of pop with the spirit of 90s Trent Reznor, whose influence looms large over the album. Early Nine Inch Nails courses through the veins of tracks like the sublimely intimate ‘Hard Beat’, or is given a post-punk makeover on ‘Body Popping’, while Reuben rears its head more than ever before on the likes of ‘Waterloo Teeth’ and ‘Hell In A Fast Car’. But as always, nothing is ever that simple. ‘I Don’t Know Anything’ surfs a Daft Punk bass line through the 80s and into one of the album’s most gorgeous choruses, while ‘Bones’ combines the fuzz of Muse with a lamenting West End sensibility, and then there is ‘Comfort Animal’, 93 seconds of the lushest, womb-like instrumentation you will ever hear, like Pink Floyd covering ‘The Downward Spiral’. Effortlessly easy to enjoy from the off, but crafted in a way that gets better every time, ‘Devolver’ marks one of those rare occasions when changing a single note would ruin everything, and makes you assume Lenman could write music for literally any forum. In the short term, ‘Devolver’ is guaranteed to earn multiple Top 10 placings come end of 2017; in the long term, Lenman deserves to be revered as highly as Reznor, Cohen or Cobain. A masterpiece of melody, fragility, vivacity and intimacy.

Jamie Lenman

Categories: Album Reviews, Reviews

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