Something bad has happened to Jamie T. Just what isn’t quite certain, but it’s the most reasonable explanation for the pretty suitably titled EP Magnolia Melancholia, the musical equivalent of the introverted and downright gloomy poetry certain types might churn out after depressing days hiding alone in a room. Instead of being recommended pills and a thorough couch session though, this record murmurs shyly of an understated genius.
Magnolia Melancholia sounds like a record which everyone involved just inherently got. Jamie’s vocals with their warm loudspeaker-like crackle have the reek of a sleepy drunk, half-baked prophet while the layered and downright ingenious collaborative tracks themselves speak of the understanding of disciples. Lead track ‘Don’t You Find’ with its drops and ‘oo-wah-ooh-wah’’s could, with a few more BPM’s be a club anthem; instead it’s an animated tale of an unwanted love, a spectre just as unforgettable as the despicably catchy backing vocal which please, for the sake of everyone around you, don’t try to recreate. Your voice doesn’t do that.
The veneer of fun carries on with ‘Marilyn Monroe’; though a stomper of a track, Jamie’s lyrics make it more of a stomping march of disparagement and apathy than a conventional festival anthem as he sings ‘I go where I’m rolling/ I feel like nothing/ No nothing at all’. Fatigue kicks in and sparsity takes over in ‘Riverbed’, a single acoustic line with Jamie’s lonesome voice driving the song towards a chorus so cathartic in its grinding electricity that it seems destined for the intense closing scene of some upcoming indie flick, while a haunting and haunted cover of The Replacements’ ‘Bastards of Young’ closes the record in chilling and crowd-silencing fashion. In an EP concerned with ‘Magnolia Melancholia’, the most banal and suburban sounding of all disappointments and with its ode to the eighties – that most disenfranchised of decades – that Mr. T has managed to make apathy emotional and retain the rawness of an original and resonant idea amidst an incredibly pleasant palette is nothing short of a beautiful miracle. Jamie T’s calling you out on your shit everyone, he’s just so goddamn demure about it you might not have noticed it yet.