South Londoner Jamie T – born Jamie Treays - had some 180 songs written in the five-and-half-years since the release of 2016's Trick.
"I was struggling to find my direction with the record for a few years, really," he admits.
Bunkered in his East London home studio, he wrote and rewrote, playing all the guitar and keyboard parts himself.
"I went home one day, and I found this track that I had recorded, pretty much fully finished.
"And I was really upset, because I realised that I'd spent the last six months asking other people to tell me if something was good.
"Then I heard this track and I just immediately knew I'd kind of found my path."
That song is The Old Style Raiders, a lean, taut indie-rock anthem with a heads-thrown-back chorus you can hang your hat on ("toe the line! / Hard to find! / Told to fight for something you love in life…").
"It's got hope in it," answers Treays when asked what makes The Old Style Raiders his album's opening statement.
"It's fighting to find something that means enough to you that you love.
"The fight to find that, and to carry on striving, to find something you love enough to hold on to.
"Rather than kid love or movie love or, gushy love or lust love, whatever you have when you're younger – it's actually trying to fight for something that means more than that. It's the struggle to find that."
Produced by Hugo White, the song was a pathfinder, a direction forward for a boundlessly productive artist who will freely admit that, for a minute there, he lost his way creatively.
From there, he drilled down and focused on 13 vital, pin-sharp, melody-rich, spikily provocative, visually vivid and narratively expansive tunes that make up The Theory of Whatever.
Jamie T has been away, and done a lot, but now he's back. And he has a lot to say.