Jake Bugg’s sophomore album ‘Shangri La’ finds a rockier Bugg than we were introduced to on his debut. With super producer Rick Rubin on the controls, it’s a punchier record with short sharp punkier songs interspersed with the expected folk and Americana. One thing that hasn’t changed is that there is nothing terribly clever about the songs; they are quite simple in structure and lyrics. They probably won’t appeal to James Blake fans, but after Bugg’s recent comments about how he doesn’t get Blake’s music, you get the feeling he won’t be losing sleep over this.
While Bugg often sounded like Bob Dylan/Don McLean on his debut album, here he is aping Liam Gallagher on songs like What Doesn’t Kill You and Kingpin. It’s not entirely convincing. The former, while catchy enough, can’t shake off the similarities to Arctic Monkey’s ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor’. The latter’s stale riffs sound like a very dated Status Quo, which should be a crime.
That isn’t to say Bugg’s knack of creating memorable melodies have completely disappeared. Messed Up Kids, Simple Pleasures, Me And You and Slumville Sunrise will immediately wiggle their way into your mind, transporting you back to what made his first album so enjoyable. Kitchen Table introduces Hammond organ and egg shakers and is a pleasant song but goes on a minute too long. The problem is that this standard of song is sporadic across the album. All Your Reasons, Pine Trees, and A Song About Love don’t make any real impression and won’t make much of a dent on your mind.
If you are already a fan of Jake Bugg, then you’ll undoubtedly find much to enjoy here. For the uninitiated while ‘Shangri La’ has some very enjoyable moments, it’s not going to convert the undecided.