In 2012, Jake Bugg appeared rather suddenly and quickly gained a large following due his diverse debut album which many felt to be a breath of fresh air to the genre especially considering his youth and potential. However four years and two more albums on, Bugg has lost a fair amount of his original supporters, partly due to his sometimes hypocritical comments especially concerning co-writers. Nonetheless, Bugg penned the entirety of his third album On My One, well, on his one and clearly hoped to silence his critics. While unfortunately this is not the miraculous comeback he was hoping for, it does highlight Bugg’s strong desire to always improve despite his occasional failure to do that.
Opinions on this album will vary right from one extreme to the other but no matter what that may be, it is impossible to deny Bugg credit for continuing to develop musically. After the success of his debut it would have been easy for him to rest on his laurels and at this point we would have just another collection of very similar songs. Yet, like his second album Shangri-La, On My One feels like a natural development in its themes, moving away from tales of his teenage years in Nottingham to the situations that he faces now. It is commendable that Bugg had made an effort to evolve his music but the issue is that these new themes simply aren’t as compelling and it is harder to relate to than it was with his previous material.
On My One works best when Bugg seems most at home and this found both in the anthemic singles and the album’s quieter moments. This is displayed most prominently on Love, Hope and Misery, perhaps Bugg’s strongest single since Lightning Bolt that will undoubtedly go down well on his upcoming autumn tour. Jake Bugg’s debut had several slower songs that were simply beautiful, Broken in particular, and again that style is where Jake Bugg is at his best as he channels that energy on tracks such as Never Wanna Dance and All That. Impressively though, these tracks are not mere copies of his original successes and still encapsulate the sound of this album and show that Bugg realises where his strengths lie but also uses them to evolve instead of relying on them.
As previously mentioned, there a few missteps on the album, some tracks just simply fail to make much an impact whilst sometimes Jake Bugg’s tendency to dabble in other genre’s sadly leads to a painfully embarrassing moment on Ain’t No Rhyme, a strange attempt at rap that truly is baffling. However, whenever there is a low point it is often an ambitious idea that fails and Bugg’s desire to not stay safe is commendable.
On My One is unlikely to win over many new fans but will hopefully impress many who admire Jake Bugg’s initiative to create something different, a record he definitely needed and will no doubt be a platform for him to develop even further. So even if the result was a slight decline in quality from his previous work it represents a promising future for Jake Bugg and renews his potential to create truly great music again.
– ETHIAN WOODFORD (@HUMAN_DIS4STER)