For an indie scamp rapper driven into hiding for four years by anxiety brought on by the success of his first two albums, the reanimated Jamie Treays does a convincing impression of supreme confidence. Most acts apologetically slip new songs into their sets like worming tablets into an alsatian’s steak. But, striking the triumphal poses of a punk renegade, Treays opens with the vixen funk of recent single Power Over Men to ecstatic teen screams, and an upfront brace of tracks from his fourth album Trick are received like 1D stripping. The mosh pit even waves carrier bags aloft for Tescoland. The cult grows rituals.
On his two recent “comeback” records, Treays has proved himself a magnetic and weighty alt-pop force. His frenetic character sketches of heroic street drunks, troublemakers and lovestruck hedonists are delivered like a hyperactive Mike Skinner fronting the Libertines, Big Audio Dynamite or Arctic Monkeys in their current 50s malt shop noir phase, and peppered with subtlety, power and sociopolitical depth. When he isn’t charging at double-speed through glorious, frantic pop tunes like Sticks ’n’ Stones, Zombie and a rampant Rabbit Hole, he’s leading what sounds like an opera of wolves on Don’t You Find, helming a doomed Roman galleon on Crossfire Love, or lamenting the disintegration of London culture on Sign of the Times, and riot police violence on Solomon Eagle.
The backdrop painting of the 17th-century Eagle preaching to plague-riddled London with a bowl of burning coals on his head suggests Jamie considers himself a foolish false idol; in fact he’s become a truly devotional indie-rap figurehead. A wag for life.