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Album Review: Devolver by Jamie Lenman

Jamie Lenman releases his second studio solo album Devolver on 27th October via Big Scary Monsters. In a departure from Jamie’s debut solo album (the double album of country and thrash metal, Muscle Memory) Devolver has a more slim lined, direct and focused sound across all 11 tracks.

As Jamie explains himself: “I wanted to create a shorter, more concise album with plenty of digital elements and danceable rhythms. Like the two singles that came out earlier in the year, the record brings together the riffs and the melodies into the same space, which is how I naturally write, and is the kind of music I like to hear. A lot of the songs are built around the drum beats, which as a drummer myself is often where I start in the writing process. In several places there are long breaks of just the percussion on its own, and it’s been really great to have that space, to let the tracks simmer in their own juices so to speak.”

“There’s an element of risk throughout – on every track there is something that I’ve not done before, in terms of song structure or instrumentation or performance. Very often during the writing process I would get to a point where I could see the way I’d normally continue and I chose to purposely go in the opposite direction in order to create something different.”

While Devolver may see Lenman return to the post-hardcore sound of Reuben, it’s a little different this time around. There’s still the big triumphant soaring melodies and big riffs but there’s more focus on danceable rhythms and digital elements.

First off, this is more accessible that Muscle Memory. The country side of that album was pretty awful and the thrash side fell short of the mark, here Lenman goes to territory he knows well and adds his own twist. Opening tracks ‘Hard Beat’ and ‘Waterloo Teeth’ are a little dull but they’re not bad. Middle of the road accessible rock. However, the throbbing ferociousness of ‘Personal’ and ‘Body Popping’ hint that this might just be something special. The latter starts off as a pop track before developing into an experimental alt rock track. It’s not what you were expecting but my word it’s good.

Unfortunately, the album doesn’t keep up the quality thereafter. ‘Mississippi’ doesn’t go anywhere until the final minute, for three minutes the track revolves one riff until it explodes into a head melting collision of riffs. ‘Fast Car’ sounds like a poor Reuben track with digital bits thrown into the mix before ‘I Don’t Know Anything’ is a bang average pop rock track. While the less said about ‘Bones’ the better, ‘All of England Is a City’ is a storming track. The storming riff compliments the post-hardcore structure while Lenman’s vocal is sumptuous and immediate. There’s an urgency to the track that’s lacking from the rest of the album. Album closer and title track ‘Devolver’ comes closer to working yet ends up like a dull version of Frank Turner covering The Police for 3 minutes. When there the explosion of riffs it’s glorious, unfortunately its short lived.

A mixed bag, some excellent tracks and some that struggle to be more than dull.

AD Rating 5.75/10

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