Jake Bugg – Saturday Night, Sunday Morning: Smart songs for pandemic paranoia

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Once praised as Nottingham’s “council estate Bob Dylan”, restless Jake went on to dabble in dance beats and country without ever matching the sales of his brilliant self-titled 2012 debut album.

But as last year’s earworm single All I Need made clear, Bugg is still a huge talent and very much his own man.

“Call me cynical, but original, trying to fit into a world that’s so digital,” he sings on the infectious track, adding, “Came to let you know, I left the pigeonhole” – arguably to secure his niche in smart indie-pop.

This, his fifth album, takes its name from the 1958 novel by Alan Sillitoe (another Nottingham boy) which begat a cult hit working-class kitchen sink film before most of Jake’s fans’ mums were born.

Bugg, whose hair is Britpop via mid-60s Mod, is informed by the past but not chained to it.

His clever, catchy songs feel entirely current.

Downtown is a mesmerising ballad, tender, terrific and tailormade for pandemic paranoia as he promises a loved one “follow me downtown… you’ll never be alone”.

Rabbit Hole is darker and sexier, danceable grunge that trips its way to an undefined Wonderland: “Gonna get out of my head… just to get me by”.

All I Need is heavier, with a driving beat and a story to tell: “Drunk with desire/Ten shots of fire”.

About Last Night tackles jealousy. Lost — about obsession and heartbreak — is swirlingly seductive and poppy, it’s the only dance track. Lonely Hours channels chopping Jam-era chords.

None of these classy but varied compositions disappoint.

At the grand old age of 27, Jake has pulled another rabbit out of the hat. The kid is a Bugg you can’t swat away.

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