Shangri La

Jake Bugg

Released: 18 November 2013

Genre: Rock

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It is Jake Bugg's misfortune to be recording in a cynical, over-mediated age.

There is no doubt that Bugg is a major creative talent. His platinum-selling, number one debut album confirmed that, as does the frequently inspired Shangri La, recorded by Bugg at a studio complex of the same name in Malibu with the venerated producer Rick Rubin.

When the album sparks, it is truly on fire. The opening There's A Beast And We All Feed It and the quasi-rockabilly Kingpin are tremendous roustabouts, knowing sneers at the world and its many foibles performed with the tumbling rhythms, stuttering cadences and linguistic dexterity of early Bob Dylan. It is high praise, but it is thoroughly deserved.

Despite this, Bugg is easily mocked, and he will be. The keen patronage of Noel Gallagher makes it hard for him to shake off the charge that his music is Oasis-lite. There are times that his lyrics tend towards the platitudinous, or even the risible: All Your Reasons sighs that "There's a lot of pain out there", while A Song About Love is as gauche as the Inbetweeners. Yet both songs thrum with vim and brio, and there is a very good reason for these inevitable lapses: he is still only 19 years old. The follies of youth are part of the package.

It is surely time to cut Jake Bugg some slack. Shangri La is a far better second album than we had any right to expect it to be.

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15-11-2013