Jake Bugg – Saturday Night Sunday Morning
It has been nine years since his double platinum debut album and, since then, Jake Bugg’s commercial stock has taken a notable downturn. The poor reception for his self-produced third album On My One and the Americana-influenced follow-up Hearts That Strain contributed to the natural expiration of his contract with Virgin EMI.
Now he is with Sony’s RCA label and has drafted in a chart-penning team of songwriters, including Camilla Cabello and Dua Lipa collaborator Ali Tamposi and Andrew Watt (who has worked with Justin Bieber, Post Malone and Miley Cyrus). Combining these creative choices with Bugg’s proclaimed ABBA, Bee Gees and Beach Boys influences injects a healthy dose of pop catchiness to his strongest record since his debut.
The tracks that have preceded the album’s release perfectly demonstrate the influence of these collaborations and successfully hallmark Saturday Night, Sunday Morning as a crossover album. Recent single Lost opens with a fuzzy drumbeat and funky bass that lead into an ABBA-inspired disco number. Opening track All I Need begins with a perky Chinese lute riff that is joined by a retro-soul beat that bucks the upbeat pop tempo feel of the record. However, these, and the other obviously pop-influenced tracks, lack what the trio of name-checked pop influences were masters at: memorable melody. Even the euphonious gospel singers on All I Need cannot breathe life into the mundane chorus.
Interestingly, despite the focus on commercial pop production, the strengths of the album come from the guitar-orientated influences, such as the psychobilly and country-influenced Kiss Like the Sun and the euphoric indie-dance-influenced tracks Screaming and Rabbit Hole (with the latter featuring the singer adopting a Bee Gees-inspired falsetto).
Though Bugg reverts to his staple ballad style for a few tracks, the single-released Downtown is, ironically, the weakest on the album and suggests he is running out of ideas when composing in this style. Fortunately, the more full-bodied, Lennon-like Scene, which comes complete with a Harrison-esque slide guitar solo, offers a rich, Beatles-influenced ballad track that counteracts this surprising dud.
Taken in its entirety, this fifth album by Bugg is a consciously bold and tactical reinvention for the Nottinghamshire artist. It has enough enjoyable moments that warrant the well-deserved upturn in commercial success that the writers are understandably chasing. It is just a shame that the vocal melodies do not stand out with the same dynamism and energy as the album’s pop-soaked production.
Saturday Night Sunday Morning is released on 20th August 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Jake Bugg’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Downtown here: