Jake Bugg ‘Jake Bugg’ – Review

6 Nov

What’s the worth of listening to something without an ounce of originality? I think your answer to that question will determine exactly how you respond to Jake Bugg’s debut album. You may think there is great worth in listening to something that sounds almost exactly like some of your favourite records, or you may think there’s no point at all. From the sepia toned portrait that adorns the cover, to the recording style, that on some tracks mimics the crackles and pops of an old record player, almost everything about ‘Jake Bugg’ is borrowed (some would say stolen) from another age.

This week Bugg said ‘I’m keeping that X Facror shit off the top spot’, which I suppose is a factual statement seeing as he’s number one in the charts and Leona Lewis is number 3. His music is clearly a reaction to the over-processed pop that clogs daytime radio playlists. It’s always been like this, a battle between the authentic and the supposedly inauthentic, rock and pop, but it seems unusual that Bugg and his band of admires (such as Noel Gallagher and NME) should be banging on about his authenticity when he’s mining a genre popularised in the USA at least four decades ago. I guess what they mean is he’s genuine, as in, he means. He’s an authentic kind of guy.

It helps that the songs are raw and honest. Most are acoustic, with minimal arrangements; they are usually impressively restrained, if occasionally a little too restrained (As on ‘Two Fingers’, an enjoyable single that feels slightly limp and lifeless). Bugg’s guitar work is impressive; he’s an 18 year old lad who plays like someone far older and wiser, whether he’s chugging away in the skiffle style or finger pickin like his idols Donovan and Don Mclean. Sometimes this elder statesmen charade is a little tiresome though, as when he says ‘I’ve seen it all, nothing shocks me anymore’. There are a few moments like this where you wonder if Bugg really means what he’s singing or if he’s just repeating what he’s heard on older records like a impressionable parrot.

Guitar music isn’t in vogue at the moment, that’s no seceret, but Jake Bugg is sitting pretty in the number one position. He’s succeed for the same reason that Adele succeeded – he’s very good at what he does, even if what he does isn’t particularly fashionable or innovative. There’s still a sizable audience for this type of music and Jake Bugg is here for that audience, so what’s wrong with that? The ballads (‘Slide’, ‘Broken’, ‘Someplace’) are bigger and the opening trio of songs (‘Lightning Bolt’, ‘Two Fingers’, ‘Taste It’) are more passionate than just about anything you will hear all year. He may not be as authentic as he likes to think he is but Bugg is still walking talking proof that talent will out.

7.5/10

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One Response to “Jake Bugg ‘Jake Bugg’ – Review”

  1. Vitaly Klitschko July 28, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Considering Bugg didn’t write the songs (Producer Iain Archer is obviously the brains behind the operation), Bugg’s claim to authenticity is even less. In fact, I’d say it was nil. Bugg is simply extremely offensive and unlistenable when you appreciate how fake it all is.

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