Where did it go? The pure rush of “Lightning Bolt”? The aching, nostalgia of “Simple As This”? The warm afterglow of “Broken”? From the first bouncy notes of Shangri La, it’s clear that Rick Rubin declined (somewhat contrary to his usual approach) to strip away sound and instead felt inclined to add more. Why, exactly, are we bopping our heads to “There’s a Beast and We All Feed It”? One wonders whether Rubin even gave Bugg’s dark, thoughtful lyrics a read before laying down the arrangement; either way, in no universe does Bugg’s intoning, “There’s a beast eating every bit of beauty / And, yes, we all feed it” amidst shimmying bass and bright electric guitar make any sense. The takeaway here is that while Bugg’s debut album felt genuine, Shangri La feels forced and awkward.
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