Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Album review: Jake Bugg - Self-titled

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Album cover for Jake Bugg's self-titled album. Photo / Supplied
Album cover for Jake Bugg's self-titled album. Photo / Supplied

You'll have trouble finding many 18-year-old singer-songwriters penning lines like, "I drink to remember, I smoke to forget" in their bedrooms. But Jake Bugg isn't like most 18-year-olds. For one, the British teen's icons are not chart-topping pop stars but 70s-era Bob Dylan and the Beatles, and his remarkably accomplished solo album contains the kind of self-reflective songwriting you'd expect from Noel Gallagher or the Arctic Monkeys.

As good as the trippy alt-rock opening combo of Lightning Bolt (rowdy, Oasis-style anthem) and Two Fingers (woozy White Album sing-along) is, Bugg is at his best when it's just him and his guitar, like the mournful Ballad of Mr Jones, or Simple as This, a beautiful campfire lullaby that even brings in a subtle harmonica near the end. Sure, things get a little too Pop Levi on the forced bar-room jollies of Taste It.

And it's hard to believe Bugg has lived every story on his album - Seen It All details a Friday night spent popping pills, crashing a party and witnessing a violent knife attack, while Someone Told Me is a gentle love letter about a broken heart - but he tells his tales with a delicate touch and the timeless poignancy of a troubadour twice his age.

Forget about Justin Bieber - Jake Bugg is what the kids should really be listening to.

Stars: 4/5
Verdict: Young Brit's startlingly accomplished debut
Click here to buy a copy of Jake Bugg's new album.


- NZ Herald

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