O2 Brixton Academy, London
Music review: Jake Bugg - 'Irritatingly nasal and whiny'
Bugg could do with walking the walk a bit more
Thursday 24 October 2013
For those of us who occasionally strive to defend heritage-minded, guitar based indie rock from critics who would gleefully dance on its graves, Jake Bugg is a real bummer.
He plays into all the worst stereotypes, with his surly po-face, his sexless unaesthetic, his narrow opinions on X Factor, One Direction, Taylor Swift and the importance in Our Troubled Times of proper songs, played on real instruments, crafted from the wood of integrity trees felled in the Forest Of Authenticity. Never mind that his debut album was co-written with a former members of Snow Patrol and The Longpigs (presumably Dr Luke was busy) and he got his big break on a beer advert.
Still, unlike most of those I’d be happier to fly the flag of guitar music, Bugg is big news, and beloved. His forthcoming second album, Shangri-La (named after producer Rick Rubin’s Malibu studio), with a heftier sound and a scope beyond the smalltown grit and trouble of his first set, is likely to make him more so.
The first new track, ‘There’s A Beast And We All Feed It’, suggests that there hasn’t been much in the way of a musical makeover, following as it does the same old Johnny Cash/Donovan feisty country shuffle, Bugg’s voice seemingly leaving his throat ready-coated with a Sun Records patina. ‘Storm Passes Away’, another new track, is - you guessed it - a country amble with amiable bass and a flatly bawled chorus.
Bugg’s voice is often irritatingly nasal and whiny. Of course, it never stopped Dylan, but then Dylan had Dylan’s songs. The only revolutionary thought the likes of ‘Something’s Changing’ inspire is “maybe The Fratellis weren’t that bad.” Newie ‘Messed Up Kids’, though, is more promising, stroppy rock with more heft, a hammering chorus and guitar work with more space and stretch to it. Recently unveiled ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’, too, has a bit more life than the usual George Formby Sings Cash template, with a Sex Pistols sneer to it.
The lasting impression, though, is that much as people gloss over the fact that some of the great songwriters didn’t have it all together at 19, Bugg could do with walking the walk a bit more; his adoption of classic singer-songwriter models has a touch of the all-the-gear-and-no-idea. A cover of Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)’ underlines that painfully. Let’s hope Shangri- La has worked some magic that wasn’t in evidence tonight.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 3 Father of 12 accused of raping, beating, starving and abusing his own children in US 'cult'
- 4 Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote