Key Tracks: “Slumville Sunrise” “What Doesn’t Kill You”
When Bob Dylan went electric at Newport Folk Festival, he shocked audiences and divided his fanbase. Bugg, the 19 year-old from the UK, might just be trying to do the same. His self-titled debut came out in Britain this week last year (and in April in America), but he’s already got his second album out. The leadoff single, “What Doesn’t Kill You,” is single-handedly louder than any song from “Jake Bugg,” sounding more like a 70′s garage-punk song than a 60′s rock-and-roll one. There’s more electric on this album, and there’s more balance. It’s a fun, nostalgia-driven album with no real low points.
The average length of a song from “Jake Bugg” looks to be around 2:30-2:45. On “Shangri La,” it’s closer to 3:00. It’s not much of a difference, but it shows. Bugg expands on this album. While his first album was full of enjoyable ’60′s throwbacks, it got too repetitive. “Shangri La” has a balance between quick, energetic blasts and well-developed ballads. “All Your Reasons,” the longest song across either album, even allows for a lengthy musical bridge. And while some of the album’s opening tracks are a little louder and faster than his previous songs, the album ends with some songs that are slower and softer.
Bugg’s influences are defined here – he was raised on classic rock and garage rock. It’s just as evident here as it was before, and it makes for a delightful throwback. There’s plenty of artists doing 60′s nostalgia, but with their own modern flairs. Bugg’s only real flairs are a combination of older influences, and crisper production (courtesy of the ubiquitous Rick Rubin). Otherwise, his simple and energetic music actually sounds original amidst a sea of bands trying to be more and more complex.
It’s still a little much – it’s a great listen that doesn’t take up much time, but there are still some moments that get a little repetitive. The album’s midpoint has a few tracks that are great on their own, but don’t particularly stand out on an album format. Still, that barely deters “Shangri La” from being a great and varied album. It’s an album that won’t get old fast. Pretty much everything works on “Shangri La,” and things are looking up for the young Jake Bugg.
-By Andrew McNally