By Andrew Hunter
Xtra Mile Records
Jamie Lenman came back earlier this year, ages ago really, with a double album entitled Muscle Memory. One side heavy metal and math rock, the other big band/folk jazz type tunes. I was really excited by the prospect of an album from Jaime Lenman because I loved his old band Reuben and I just think the guy is too talented to not be making music. The first part of this double offering is the hard and heavy Muscle far removed from the more catchy blend that Reuben was known for. It seems that Muscle is a way of realising all the pent up creativity in a brutal way short, heavy bursts, “Fizzy Blood” one half of the split single comes in a 1:40. “No News Is Good News” with it’s chunky riffs hints of Deftones, and has a sense of disappointment and remorse “we created our own hell” screams Lenman, while “Terrible Feeling” has Dillinger Escape Plan over it. “Shower Of Scorn” stands out on Muscle as something different and comes as close to Reuben as it gets on the first side. But it just seems like a constant attempt to make a record that people didn’t expected, to not be in a way …Reuben especially with the first few seconds of “All The Things You Hate About Me, I hate Them Too” almost lulling you in. But it’s a clever album and also gets all Shakespearian with “A Plague On Both Your Houses”. First half of the double album closes with “Muscle” with its grungy lumbering bassy riffs and melancholic tones as it fades out.
Memory opens with ukulele strumming “Shotgun House” which you can imagine Lenman sipping tea and then skipping into the sunset, he might need a cup of tea after the vocals on Muscle. “I Aint Your Boy” could be a tale of how Jamie has changed in his life and can’t or won’t go back to how things were. Memory really shows the other side with it’s softer, melodic tones and somehow more bare and personal, without the crunching riffs to hide behind. You just can’t help but sing along to “Pretty Please” the classiest song you will hear. The second side blends happy upbeat tunes with that of more sombre and personal tracks like “Saturday Night”. It is a bold and imaginative blend on this double album throughout.
If your love of Reuben brought you to this, you may be both happy and disappointed by what you find, but if you look hard enough you can hear little understated hints of Reuben, although Muscle can be a tough listen. Muscle Memory has a binary, both are so far apart, separate entities that don’t & shouldn’t fully meet, maybe it was the two extremes that somehow gave Reuben that mix that I loved so much. It’s not about Reuben on this album (as much as I might want it to be) everybody has to move on and Jamie Lenman proves he can move in a very different direction by coming back with this epic twenty two track double album of very different styles .