Since the release of his self-titled debut last year, Nottingham native Jake Bugg has wasted no time in releasing his follow-up album Shangri La. It’s been an overwhelming ride for the 19 year old, having worked his way up to arena tours which are on their way to selling out, as well as living his life in the limelight after dating model Cara Delevingne. It’s also worth noting that Shangri La has had Rick Rubin at the production heart of it, a man who has worked on three of the biggest rap records of 2013 (Kanye West’s Yeezus, Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail and Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2).
Opening up the album is ‘There’s a Beast and We All Feed It’, which showcases Bugg’s ability to write a strange commentary of how his life has changed this past year over the backdrop of a country song. The gritty guitars on ‘Slumville Sunrise’ really show a lot of growth for Bugg, utilising his signature quick witting lyricism and rapid guitar work throughout the song. Although the jagged instrumentation on ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ seems like a step in the right direction, it feels like Bugg’s clean vocals just don’t sit well on top of a punk rock song.
‘A Song About Love’ really channels the delicate nature of Nick Drake and John Martyn, but the drums coming in straight away really hinders the track’s potential to escalate to new heights and feels like the all the cards have been put on the table before the soaring anthemic chorus. However, the likes of intimate tracks such as ‘Pine Trees’ show a true return to form, demonstrating that Bugg is truly at his best when it’s just him and a guitar.
Although Shangri La may seem messy and broad in places, it shows that Bugg has progressed his ability to create anthemic and long lasting songs. Much of the album seems oriented towards being played in a live environment, which is likely to be where these tracks come into their own and truly shine.
Shangri La is available now on iTunes.