Jake Bugg âJake Buggâ
Out now on Mercury Records
Amidst a dreary time for British guitar music, the prominence in both daytime radio and ticket sales of a teenage skiffle soloist still shy of 20 may raise more than a few eyebrows. Over the last twelve months, one Jake Bugg from Nottingham has gone from modest pubs and bars to support slots with Noel Gallagher and the Stone Roses. His self titled debut is a strong reflection of what has captured imaginations about him; one eye on the early, earthy rumblings of 1950âs rockânâroll with another on the trials of bored youth in modern day Britain. This is music self consciously unpretentious and with intentions and inspirations far beyond that of the average indie band in 2012.
Some have swiftly filed Bugg under âThe Laâsâ, and this isnât entirely inaccurate â his songwriting may lack the maturity, charm and madness of Lee Mavers but the panoramic part-celebration, part-mourn of âTrouble Townâ is as close as one is likely to come. Popular single âLightening Boltâ opens the album, a delightfully sharp acoustic stomp that cuts straight to the hooks. Though the album boasts an impressively restrained 14 songs in under 40 minutes, the album does dip towards the end, the decision to front load the album with singles a la âthe Joshua Treeâ does leave the energy somewhat waning by the end.
Whilst it can be argued that there isnât much innovative about hearing 12 bar blues sung in an American accent â indeed there are pubs in Clitheroe on a wet Friday night where one can hear exactly this â these kind of accusations were flung at a 19 year old Paul Weller and he turned out quite alright. Jake Buggâs songwriting is uniquely developed for his tender years; âSeen It Allâ is a world weary recollection of aFriday night that began with âa pill or maybe twoâ in a car park before winding up out of place at a party where âeveryone here has a knifeâ. Thereâs more than enough melancholy beating against the bars here to add a subtle poignancy to Buggâs reflections, notably resonant far beyond his native Nottingham. Clocking in at just over four minutes (shock horror!), âBrokenâ is easily the most anthemic and reflective moment on the record, showcasing the best of Bugg as a vocalist as his nasal croon soars above a minimalist guitar and piano, in a crescendo that lasts the song through.
Whilst much is made of Buggâs influences of pre-Beatles rockânâroll and a certain Robert Zimmerman, thereâs more than a tinge of Alex Turner in his observational lyricisms and some big choruses that are positively Noel Gallagher. A match made in heaven for many music fans. The album is somewhat lacking in terms of punch, whilst the lyrical content can quickly derail from acute observation and commentary to forgettable clichÃ©. However, to say Bugg shows promise from this record is an understatement, and his development should indeed prove very interesting.