Jake Bugg: Shangri-La


HE’S no mug, Jake Bugg.
Barely a year after his debut album was rapturously received by both press comes another.
A young man itching to get back into the recording studio to prove his debut was no fluke or a case of milking a cash cow while he’s the British public’s cool Northerner du jour?
A bit of both, maybe – but happily more of the former than the latter.
Thanks to the success of that eponymously titled debut Bugg found himself recording with Rick Rubin, legendary founder of pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam and producer of Johnny Cash’s triumphant American Recordings comeback albums in the producer’s Malibu Shangri-La studios (hence the name).
Lovers of that debut will feel instantly comforted by the album’s opener, There’s a Beast and We All Feed It, which hares out of the traps magnificently, Bugg sounding positively Dylan-esque in a rip-roaring rollock which stands worthy comparison with the debut’s Lightning Bolt.
While he doesn’t venture far away from the template with Slumville Sunrise, Rubin’s fingerprints are all over What Doesn’t Kill You which, despite Bugg never sounding more like Arctic Monkey Alex Turner, is a grungey, American rocker that suits Bugg down to the the ground.
The album has attracted some criticism for its tendency to wander into territory last inhabited by no-longer-cool acts of the 1990s, and it’s undeniable that A Song About Love sounds like Cast in Walkaway mode, full-on rocker Kingpin is remarkably Oasis-like and Me and You skips forward a decade to take in the early 2000s era singer-songwriting style beloved of Jack Johnson and the like.
Fact is, though, that’s not necessarily a bad thing and although the album does sag a little in the middle, he gets back into the groove marvellously with the warm and earthy Kitchen Table, and closing pair Simple Pleasures and Storm Passes Away.


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