EP Review: Jamie Lenman – King Of Clubs

Brit-rock wildcard Jamie Lenman goes all-in on King Of Clubs EP

EP Review: Jamie Lenman – King Of Clubs
Sam Law

Twelve years since the dissolution of Reuben, Lenmania continues to go from strength to strength. The Surrey alt.rockers’ frontman might have seen his solo stock rise recently through a mastery of glorious maximalism – elements of folk, punk and jazz crammed into a traditionally metallic mix – but it’s the thrilling, back-to-basics straightforwardness of seven-track EP King Of Clubs that makes it such a stirring listen.

First track Summer Of Discontent (The Future Is Dead) starts the fire immediately, bringing in Pengshui’s Illaman for a grimy, politically-charged banger that alternates between abrasive IDLES-esque punk and near nu-metal bombast. From there, however, we swing back and forth between on-the-nose outrage (the thumping Sleep Mission, percussive highlight I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend) and more complex, introspective examinations (grungy plea Like Me Better, existential second-single The Road To Right).

"[This is] a dirty, dark-sounding record," Jamie explains, "based on uncomfortable, conflicting emotions." Working with producer Space for the third time, the term “neisty” (a mixture of nasty and nice) was coined to explain the broken feel they wanted to evoke. Safe to say, they’ve succeeded.

Indeed, initially keen to allow fans time to digest 2019 covers LP Shuffle, a shorter release was envisioned but, overwhelmed by the whirl of emotions, the eventual mid-length format works perfectly, short enough to feel like an uncalculated outburst and just long enough for difficult ideas to be unpacked."It’s the musical version of a novella," Jamie continues, "like Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness or Waugh’s The Loved One."

Like those literary reference-points, King Of Clubs descends into uneasy lightlessness. Between the 153 seconds of Kill Me (a throbbing statement strangely evocative of post-millennium Nine Inch Nails) and more sprawling, sludgy closer King Of Clubs, it becomes clear that this is the angriest and most intense Jamie Lenman has been since at least 2013 solo debut Muscle Memory. Proof, were it needed, of the unmatched emotional dexterity of one of Britain’s most underrated songsmiths.

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: Reuben, IDLES, Black Futures

King Of Clubs is released on September 25 via Big Scary Monsters.

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