Jamie T.

Panic Prevention

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He's either a one-man Arctic Monkeys or an indie Mike Skinner, in training to take over the mantle of the Streets. If his yelping, strangled vocals aren't enough of a hindrance to wider fame, then his yobbish subject matter and constant stream of slang should make it a sure bet he'll never risk having a hit outside Europe (or the United Kingdom, for that matter). And he's got a thing for his bass. He's Jamie T., and if it's impossible to imagine him getting a release on Virgin before Arctic Monkeys became a sensation, then it still must be admitted that he adds up to a little more than the sum of his parts. He can move, as he does on "Calm Down Dearest," from nakedly delivering a stumbling-drunk line like "Where we going, what we doin this night/I feel drunk already maybe drink got spiked" into crooning romantic reassurances over a sublime dance track. One of the singles, "Sheila," is a well-drawn portrait of an abused woman on the edge of a breakdown (though his syllable-spraying delivery isn't what you'd call economical). The production, from Jamie himself as well as friends and partners (including main man Ben Coupland), doesn't use much more than his beloved bass guitar, but makes great use of the spare keyboard and sampler. Still, Panic Prevention isn't much better than its best three or four songs, and it's due to Jamie T.'s stubborn insistence on being understood only by himself, or perhaps a precious few in his coterie. For instance (and this is only one of many), it's hard to dissect the advice he gives on "Back in the Game": "Take your brother down to the sea, have a two's on a cigarette/Young sons mozy it happily, learn facts on the soviets."

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