By Kate Ebeling, Staff Writer
Jake Bugg made a name for himself as the moody, acoustic, thoughtful crooner of the British invasion. With his first full length, self-titled album, we witnessed a true songwriter at his craft. Bugg’s signature is an amalgamation of catchy lyrics, thoughtful chord progressions and a flair for the extra pause.
Bugg’s second effort, “Shangri-La”, was produced by the prolific Rick Rubin. It’s a departure from the simple, clean melodies seen in his debut. Marred by maracas, an electric guitar and a thickly mixed backing band that as one Youtube commenter put it, “sounds like Artic Monkeys on helium.”
“Shangri-La” sounds like more of the same songs that came off of “Jake Bugg,” with added guitar tracks and a tweak of a couple knobs on Rubin’s soundboard. There are still some gems on this album, with “A Song About Love” sounding like Bugg at his best.
This is not a complete knock on Bugg’s growth and exploration as an artist, but more of a question of what direction he has. From how it sounds, there is no real clear direction or sound on “Shangri-La,” and without it it’s easy to get lost in album and lose interest.
There’s talent with Bugg, and you can’t knock him for a solid effort, as well as Rubin’s impeccable mixing (like always). But what you can ask is where Bugg sees himself on his next album, and what exactly his message is to the audience. “Shangri-La” was supposedly paradise, and unfortunately for Bugg, I feel like many may disagree.
Listen to Jake Bugg below: