The 16 year career of Jamie Lenman has not been without its fair share of pit stops, celebrations, and challenges. As former frontman of Reuben – Lenman has experienced most of the positives and negatives the music industry can shove in your face. From the main stage at Download Festival to crippling tour exhaustion; the Surrey born creative extraordinaire is far from a newcomer to this game.
Lenman’s second solo album Devolver sticks to the theme of his eccentric flair, but is equally a complete departure from his debut record Muscle Memory. Instead of stints of country and thrash, here we are greeted with a hand basket full of genre’s, sounds, and experiments – and in some ways, it’s an even bolder step than his original outing.
Stylistically Devolver consistently tries its hardest to never stand still, hopping between genre’s at a coins toss. Th aree’s hints of 90’s rock, hardcore, pop, and indie (to name a few) that run throughout the record – some hit home with more force than others, but in general the record shows the depth of Lenman’s astute ability to adapt to his surroundings and keep a few surprises up his sleeve.
‘Waterloo Road’ transcends from a heavy alt-rock track into a slab of hardcore with wincing guitars, whereas ‘Bones’ has the kind of distorted backdrop that you’d expect to hear from The Weeknd – it’s both unpredictable and fresh to hear these kinds of risks being pulled off with such intelligent structure.
More than anything else though, Devolver is a rock record, and while it spends a lot of time trying its hand at experiments – the tone running throughout has an undoubtedly prevalent rock n roll edge. ‘Fast Car’ could be dropped into a mid-nineties Foo Fighters record with relative ease, while ‘Waterloo Teeth’ and ‘Mississippi’ take a nod to The White Stripes.
Often a drawback of albums that delve into experimentation is that it can feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen, and settling upon one style would have been more beneficial to the balance of the listen. For the most part, Devolver does manage to avoid this though, mostly down to the rhythm of the drums; which are kept to a heavy pace and become paramount to the overall flow of the record. The production here has been thought out well, and executed better – Devolver sounds heavy for its entirety, even when it falls into a genre that you wouldn’t associate with the concept of a heaving sound.
Devolver is an eccentric, flavoured listen that while taking risks, often manages to keep itself grounded throughout. There’s nothing here that we should expect to send shockwaves throughout rock music, but what is here confirms that Jamie Lenman is almost a bottomless pit of musical courage and creativity.