“I can’t really sing about the same things I sung about on the first album because that would be very dishonest,” Jake Bugg told NME this summer, whilst working on the follow-up to his self-titled debut. “There’s a lot of people that come from where I’m from that don’t get those opportunities so I think I should give them a bit of an insight of what I’ve experienced so far and what’s been going on.”
Now he’s got us primed for tales of travelling the world with his hero Noel Gallagher, recording with legends like Rick Rubin and hooking up with Cara Delevingne, but here’s Jake singing about feeling like you’re up against the world, still eschewing the glitz and the glamour in favour of his council estate grit. “His hands are on his nose/His blood is on his clothes,” the Nottingham teenager sings at one point, reinstating himself as the grand observer of life’s darker moments that made up most of his self-titled debut.
‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ isn’t just ‘Jake Bugg’ regurgitated though. In a move that he’s been slyly previewing at shows over the last few months, Jake’s done a Dylan and gone electric. There’s no tenderly strummed acoustic moments here – just a two minute tear through bouncing power chords and a new, punkier aesthetic, symbollically embodied in the leather jacket with collar popped that adorns Jake’s frame in the Shane Meadows-directed video for the track.
Whilst the riffs and the image might be heading in a different direction, and much of that promised insight might have gone missing, there’s plenty of the old Jake Bugg instilled in the song. It’s that, even through the urgency and rattling pace, that makes the first single from his forthcoming second album ‘Shangri La’ still feel as comfortable and familiar as those tracks that first introduced us to the singer-songwriter.