Jake Bugg
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning



by Aeri USER (42 Reviews)
August 21st, 2021 | 1 replies

Release Date: 2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bringing new ideas to the table, for better or worse.

You know, Jake Bugg could have had a really, really good thing going for him once upon a time.

Launching into the public eye back in 2012 with the self-titled Jake Bugg, critics were keen to praise the eighteen-year old’s clear appreciation of classic guitar-driven rock, whilst also earning nods from the likes of Noel Gallagher, amongst other contemporaries. By comparison to the multitude of X-Factor manufactured one-hit teenage wonders of the era, Bugg was an extremely welcome breath of fresh air, valiantly sticking a middle finger up in the direction of the artificial music machine to instead aim for something a little more authentic, musically. And, with the English singer-songwriter’s debut being such a success, it certainly would have appeared that he achieved this. Jake Bugg is, for the most part, a very consistent effort, however it was with the following studio release Shangri La and beyond that Bugg’s career immediately started to wane. Having apparently rushed the sophomore effort out of the door a mere eleven months following Jake Bugg, Shangri La initiated a career slump from which Bugg would never truly recover, both critically and commercially – with the subsequent On My One and fourth studio release Hearts That Strain further cementing the fact that critics and fans alike were simply not all that invested in Jake Bugg anymore. The music that had once been hailed as nostalgically reminiscent of previous classic rock acts was now being derided as uninspired and derivative, with Bugg himself seemingly being unable to break free from the formula that had once put him on the map in the first place, thus eventually resulting in a contract termination from longstanding label Virgin EMI.

Honestly, looking back along the five-year trajectory from acclaimed debut effort in 2012 to the miserably overlooked 2017 release Hearts That Strain is something of a shock; Bugg’s fall from grace had occurred so swiftly, and with such little remorse from anyone (including his once faithful label) that it really wouldn’t have been a surprise to never hear from the singer-songwriter ever again. So, having now been offered a new lease of life career-wise after signing to Sony’s RCA label in December 2018, Bugg’s rumoured intention to finally shift gears and bring some new ideas to the table may very well be one made three albums too late, however with the release of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning it is at least curious as to what changes Bugg might have made to his once reliable formula. The only question now is… did he actually make any?

Well, if ‘All I Need’ is to be believed, yes.

A rousing pop-rock anthem, by all accounts, ‘All I Need’ is immediately bolstered by snappy percussion that infectiously keeps the opening track’s momentum going, alongside a plucky guitar lead and borderline gospel choir-backed chorus ”all I need, and it don’t let me down”. To put it bluntly, ‘All I Need’ sheds all association with the gnarlier guitar-driven vibe of ‘Lightning Bolt’ or ‘Taste It’. In their place, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’s introduction is one far more akin to the shiny, studio-polished radio rock soundscapes of Kodaline or Coldplay, and it’s… fine. There’s no denying the blatant intention here in swapping out a worn down, critically flaccid artistic direction for one that (if anything else) actually sells records – a sentiment shared by the likes of ‘About Last Night.’ Arguably being one of the better cuts on the record vocally, with Bugg sounding surprisingly at home whilst surrounded by watery guitar arpeggios and an r&b inspired percussive backbone (complete with finger snaps), ‘About Last Night’ is harmless radio friendly pop-rock, albeit while being extremely cheesy lyrically; ”hopelessly in love, darling – don’t you leave me, got me hopelessly in love, baby – please believe me.” That being said, this isn’t to imply that Bugg has entirely sacrificed his signature sound.

Compared to ‘All I Need’, ‘Kiss Like The Sun’ and ‘Scene’ are both relatively straightforward Jake Bugg tracks, the former kicking off with a catchy acoustic riff and stamping indie folk percussion while the latter gears itself towards more subdued territory. Yet, despite some occasionally nice ideas, there’s really no cause to revisit them once the ride has ended. Neither track presents a single memorable melody or hook to offer some much-needed staying power, and while ‘Kill Like The Sun’ is pleasant enough there’s really nothing done here that ‘Slumville Sunrise’ hasn’t already done to a far greater extent. Elsewhere, piano ballad ‘Downtown’ and album closer ‘Hold Tight’ also attempt to tug on the nostalgia heartstrings, with the latter presenting an acoustic ballad that really wants you to think about ‘The Times They Are A Changin’ at certain moments. However, Jake Bugg’s desire to retain some resemblance to the former Jake Bugg (yes, very funny) with ‘Hold Tight’ similarly falls very flat to those already noted, whereas ‘Downtown’ ultimately proves an extremely dreary addition to the album – frankly, ‘Downtown’ borderline collapses in on itself under the weight of so much paint-by-numbers melodrama that it becomes very difficult to resist skipping by the first minute.

Now, while for the most part Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’s stay has so far been considered an innocuous, if not average one, there are a few cuts here that show some hope for the future; ‘Rabbit Hole’ and ‘Screaming’ both utilise Jake Bugg’s guitar-driven mindset to a far greater effect than the previously rehashed attempts to essentially recycle older material. The former is an absolutely infectious pop-rock anthem, featuring both a catchy driving guitar lick and arguably one of the best choruses of the record, whilst ‘Screaming’ treads similar territory to thankfully similar effect. Being something of a more rock-infused affair, Bugg leaps into the chorus with renewed vigour alongside a bluesy guitar riff and some of the most energised percussion of the album. An energy which, by the way, is further carried by the heaviest(?) track; ‘Lonely Hours.’

Veering ever-so-slightly into the realm of classic punk rock, ‘Lonely Hours’ comes as welcome late album indication of a Jake Bugg potentially re-invigorated by recent changes in circumstance, fuzzy guitar riffs on full display while Bugg’s vocals fit right into a cleaner, more refined two-and-a-half-minute blast of fun. Complimented with a recurring guitar solo melody and some tastefully implemented strings during the bridge, ‘Lonely Hours’ is easily one of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’s most entertaining tracks – however, it isn’t the most surprising. Kicking off with the kind of driving, watery bass beat you might expect to hear whilst stepping into the worlds most stereotypical sex club, ‘Lost’ probably sounds like the least ‘Jake Bugg’ thing you’ve ever heard, and also most likely terrible. However, it is with immense relieve that the most surprising track of the album soon dials back the muffled production to instead allow the smooth bass guitar free reign, boosting the versus to impeccable effect whilst scattered piano keys and strings bring up the rear. With a simple r&b beat keeping things moving, Bugg‘s delivery of ”suddenly I see you everywhere, you’re always in my head – never been so lost” might not be within the most original soundscape, but it still feels confident in the chosen shift in direction.

So, with all the previous having been said, is Jake Bugg’s ‘comeback’ effort… actually a comeback? Well, to be honest if anything else, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is a very mixed bag. There are some interesting ideas on the table, for sure; some varied degrees of departure from Bugg’s beaten-to-absolute-death sound of the previous four albums, however Bugg’s reluctance to completely relinquish the Jake Bugg of 2012 also cannot be ignored, thus resulting in some of the most lacklustre tracks of the album. Honestly, when considering the energetic breath of fresh air that is ‘Lonely Hours’, ‘Screaming’ and ‘Rabbit Hole’ – which all ultimately feel like the work of a collective band as opposed to a solo outing – it cannot help but be wondered if Bugg has reached a point whereby being the (supposedly) primary songwriter is no longer a comfortable creative space to be in… and if perhaps Sony’s RCA had certain stipulations regarding the album’s direction so that there was at least a viable guarantee the damn thing would sell.

Well, regardless of any behind the scenes box ticking, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning still makes for an interesting change of pace for Jake Bugg, one that ultimately succeeds in bringing new ideas to the table – for better or worse.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
August 21st 2021


Album Rating: 2.5

As always, feedback appreciated.

I forgot this dropped yesterday and got curious.

Edit: Updated the track list as it wasn't added with the album. Also fixed some formatting.

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