Jamie T is one of those artists that has been pretty much erased from my music collection. Returning to Panic Prevention for this article, I do think that that might be a good thing in a lot of ways. As much as I loved this album on its release, there are now a few too many mentions of ‘sluts’ etc for its content to be entirely palatable at times. In 2021 and at the age of 37 I’m more aware of these things. I was in my early 20s when the album was released in 2007, though, and Jamie’s tales of fucked up friendships, breakups, messy nights out, and a ‘Brand New Bass Guitar’ was just what I needed. This was an album that soundtracked nights out and in with friends, songs that I sung out loud as I drunkenly wandered home from the only nightclub in Matlock at 3am with them playing in my headphones, and a voice that made me feel a little less alone at a pretty difficult time in my life.
Halfway through 2006, I had gone through the very messy ending of relationship I’d been in between the ages of 17 and 23. You don’t need the details. But picture a much fatter but less bald Fran, a massive fan of Stella Artois and skunk weed, trying to come to terms with life as a young adult without the person who had done pretty much everything for him in the previous six years. It wasn’t pretty. Regular readers will know that there hasn’t been many times in life when music didn’t help me to get through, but in all honesty this was one of them. So much of the music I loved was wrapped up in that relationship. So much of it was extremely miserable, too, so as I started to make the tentative steps out of my post-relationship lull I had to temporarily ditch my diet of Editors, Bloc Party, and Kings Of Leon.
In stepped Panic Prevention. Released in January 2007 it was perfectly timed to accompany my ‘fuck this, I don’t need her’ stage. Pubs. Parties. Endless pints. Attempts to pull that ended in me slurring my words in some poor girls face or, once, spilling a bottle of red wine all over someone’s mum’s white sofa while I sang along to ‘Sheila.’ Jamie T was obviously not the only artist that pulled me through this time. He stands out, though, because of my memories of one night in particular. A huge group of us had gone back to a friend’s after a Friday night pub session and as each person left or fell to sleep, I chatted away to a friend of a friend that I’d kind of known for years but never got to know well. We talked about music and we drank and we smoked. And as the sun came up outside I played her Panic Prevention and smiled as I saw her eyes light up. We played it three or four times back to back.
Nothing happened between us that night or after, but as we listened to the album on repeat I felt a shift. Okay. I was going to be able to talk to another woman at some point in my life and wasn’t doomed at 23. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I walked home that morning singing ‘Back In The Game’ at the top of my voice. What a song. We texted back and forth for a while after that night, but eventually settled into a friendship and nothing more. We would go and see Jamie T with a few other friends the next year.
So Panic Prevention certainly holds some strong memories of a pretty integral part of my life. But how does it hold up today? It was randomly hearing ‘Back in the Game’ on an old playlist that brought me back to the album, and I have to admit that song still raises the hairs on my arms. Is it just nostalgia? I really don’t know. But I think there is something magical in the mix of his tone and delivery over a simple guitar line. I’m going to say it stands up well. ‘If You Got The Money’ was my other favourite from back in 2007 and sonically I still get a kick from it, even if I’m now a little more troubled over Jamie’s hopes that someone will take their girlfriend out for an expensive date so that he can take them out later that week for ‘pretty much free’. But if you take the chorus out of the equation, this song tells the tale of a young man terrified of never finding love and I can really see why I related so hard as a young man myself.
‘Sheila’ was the big single and, like many of the songs across the album, it still sounds like an awful lot of fun. These were fun songs that hid sadness underneath. Arctic Monkeys were another big band for me at the time, and in ‘Sheila’ you can hear a similar ability to tell the truth about growing up in a small town and watching the people around you grow (or not). I can imagine this song sounding like a bit of a novelty to new ears in 2021, but it still does something for me. Other songs that I loved back then are less impactful now, with ‘Brand New Bass Guitar’, ‘Salvador’, and ‘Operation’ all feeling a little more throwaway than I remember. But with the songs I’ve mentioned, and in the storytelling and performance of ‘Calm Down Dearest’ and ‘So Lonely Was The Ballad’, there is enough here to recommend that those who missed out on Jamie T give him a go. Just remember that some of his words may seem less suited to our ears these days.
One final warning, too; If you don’t like his voice then you’ll probably hate it.
On a personal level, I’m really glad that I took the time to dig back into this one. As I continued my move away from that relationship in 2007, I went through one of my most transformative years of music consumption, watching my tastes change and absorbing more and more music. Panic Prevention was there right at the very start.
Words by Fran Slater