EP Review

Jamie Lenman – IknowyouknowIknow: EP Review

Illustrious indie illustrator and alt-rock songwriter Jamie Lenman returns with an inspired supplement to his acclaimed recent album, The Atheist

Release Date:  5th May 2023

Label: Big Scary Monsters

Formats: CD, Vinyl

Back in November 2023, we had a listen to The Atheist, the fifth and most recent album from indie-rocker and sometime magazine illustrator, Jamie Lenman, and we declared the album’s eclectic mix of musical styles – pop, prog and even a few dabs of traditional folk all get a look in alongside Jamie’s trademark blend of jazz-infused punk and metal – “A triumph,” and that’s an assessment that we stand by.  But, it seems that Jamie wasn’t quite finished.  He’d written a lot of songs – too many to fit on the album – so IknowyouknowIknow, the new EP from Jamie Lenman, should be considered as a supplement, an extension, or a third side to The Atheist.  And the glorious thing about it is that it also works wonderfully as a standalone piece of work!

Jamie takes up the story: “It really was a case of having too many songs, which is always a good problem to have.  I think the ideal length for an album is eleven to twelve songs – around forty minutes – but I had fifteen or sixteen when we went to make The Atheist, so there was always gonna be some trimming, and there was always the idea in the back of mind that maybe the extra bits could make a little EP of their own.  [However], it’s important for people to realise that this EP isn’t just ‘the ones that weren’t good enough for the album.’  They’re the ones that are maybe a bit more unusual.  So that’s perhaps why they have a little special something, because they’re maybe a little oddly-shaped.  They don’t flow in the same way as the album does, but they do work together as a package, surprisingly.  That wasn’t the plan!  I didn’t know which ones would end up together.” 

Jamie continues: “The album and the EP are separate things that are still joined together, like two siblings.  You can enjoy them each on their own, and they function as discrete pieces of art, but if you’re after a longer listening experience, you can just carry right on from The Atheist into the EP, as if the EP is side three of The Atheist, and then you have an hour-long album.”

That isn’t a bad idea, is it?  And, as I’ve already suggested, it works.  It really does.

The EP kicks off with Words of Love, the collection’s lead single.  It’s an old song – more than twenty years old – but, in Jamie’s loving hands, it sounds as fresh as if it had floated down from the writer’s desk just yesterday.  Thrashing guitars provide the cue for Jamie’s intimate vocal, before the song heads, slowly but very surely, in an altogether more poppy direction.  The song’s lyrics consider romantic betrayal, and Jamie’s delivery of those lyrics is suitably brash and anguished.

Described as a reflection on “the fleeting nature of life and the positivity of death,” Crazy Horse is a refreshing slice of power pop, replete with jangly guitars, a fast-paced drumbeat and a bright, energetic vocal from Jamie, before the pace is slowed somewhat for the intense, slightly folky, Run Right Home.  Jamie accompanies himself on strummed acoustic guitar and highlights the message – a celebration of the importance of home – with some light harmony backing vocals.

Reminiscent of My Aim is True-era Elvis Costello, The Last Supper is crisp, punchy and meaningful, before Jamie settles down to articulate a sentiment that surely haunts every one of us, every single day, in the wonderful I Done Things I Ain’t Proud Of.  To a simple acoustic guitar accompaniment, softened by some nice violin and more of those relaxed harmony backing vocals, Jamie cites stealing his mother’s money, writing ‘awful’ letters, swearing in front of children and hitting his little brother amongst the examples of things that HE isn’t proud to have done.  I just know that we can all add our own equally nasty examples to that list…

Jamie returns to The Atheist to wrap up this short collection.  This Town Will Never Let Us Go is one of the highlights of the album, an Americana-tinged ballad, drenched in jangly guitars, which builds in passion as it progresses.  Here, it’s revisited in a softer, acoustic, form with strummed acoustic guitar and accordion taking the place of the electric instruments, but the passion of the album version is retained, particularly as the song reaches its anguished climax.  Like the entire EP, the acoustic version of This Town Will Never Let Us Down works as a standalone track, but its impact is perhaps greater when it takes the form as a reprise of the original version, when EP and album are played as a cohesive whole.

The Atheist was an excellent album, and IknowyouknowIknow is its perfect companion.  And, if you enjoyed The Atheist and you’re curious about this new EP, then why not pop along to see Jamie on his current headlining UK tour?  Details are available here.

Watch the official video to Words of Love – the EP’s lead single – here:

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