It’s easy to see the appeal – and the hope that is somehow suggested from this. He’s 18 so immediately he’ll be cast as some anti-Bieber, but allowing that tagline, major label distribution and a fawning music press isn’t exactly anti- anything. It was easy to be swept up in the sound of the Bieber-goes-rockabilly appearance on Jools Holland maybe. And then from there people have found more depth in the album – because they’ve wanted to find it.
I hear competent trace-around-songs that are – for the most part – unremarkable. I also hear a voice that is ever-so-slightly annoying in its whine and a series of justifications: the (twice) aforementioned Bieber thing; the idea that he’s not (quite) Ed Sheeran and that he might just appeal to people who carried on listening to Oasis when the millennium turned.
There’s not really a lot more to hear than that. And that might be enough for some – but it’s always dangerous to celebrate music because of the age of the person attached to it. We can encourage – sure. But to say that this is great because he is 18 shows what we’re settling for. Ideas that Jake Bugg is a folk-hero of sorts for listening to The Beatles and Dylan are very sad. Ideas that his album also called Jake Bugg is anything more than a piece of flash-in-the-pan-product, slickly marketed and with music that is both okay and then not-actually-all-that-okay-at-all are misguided at best, possibly (also) dangerous.
There’s been talk of how much this guy might have to say when he grows up and gets on a bit.
But who couldn’t we say that about in hope. The reality – probably – is that Jake Bugg will do nothing else after this. And will be forgotten about in months despite the raves he’s fluked by timing. The reality, also, cold as it might sound (and I think this record sounds very cold) is that he hasn’t (really) done anything at all here.