Indie Rock, 2012
Jake Bugg may have a face that only a mother could love, and his voice can be polarizing, but his self-titled debut is a charming schoolboy’s efforts to emulate his idols, which, from the sounds of things, are all about the jaunty rockabilly of the 1950s and 1960s.
Here, Mr Bugg sings with a charming kind of adolescent giddiness about taking pills, smoking joints, and having a brush or two with the cops, just like how being arrested for shoplifting while under the influence is a mark of pride for kids who want to impress the ladies. Every time I pay attention to the words of the songs, I’m reminded that he’s only a kid.
Lyrical naivëté aside, there’s no denying the irresistible charm of feel-good shoulder-swaying tunes like Two Fingers and Lightning Bolt. Seen It All sounds like a sequel to Del Shannon’s Runaway, not that there is anything wrong with this because that song is just damned good to listen to. Indeed, most of the faster-paced songs here are perfect for those who want to indulge in some nostalgia of the good old days (a bong or two being optional, of course) or for people who just want to listen to something good that doesn’t come with an overload of dubstep. Nobody knows when the next CD from Oasis or The Stone Roses are coming out, so Jake Bugg will step in to fill the void nicely.
When he slows things off, the momentum never lets up. Simple as This is a heartfelt tune about discovering how what one is seeking far and wide for is actually in front of him. Country Song is an unlikely example of how Mr Bugg’s distinct accent and enunciation can be used to devastatingly romantic effects. Broken is unbelievably gorgeous – this one is a sublime song that can break the heart if I am not careful. I get goose bumps just listening to that song. If Jake Bugg is trying so hard to boast about joints and pills to impress all the older women in this world, he’s doing it wrong – he just has to sing a slow and lovely heartfelt tune.
Jake Bugg is both a surreal nostalgia trip to the musical fanfare of the old days and a fabulous album by itself. I can only hope that there are more good things to come from this lad. Seriously, this one is just that good.