He's someone that, as a teenager, was cranking out festival-ready bangers that captured a generation. His love of hip hop and of sample culture (a path he was planning on treading before BBC came along) twisted their sound into something with a hypnotic edge. But the somewhat reluctant frontman (an introvert at heart) was always working within a certain constraint, that of being part of a four person indie band with guitars, drums and bass.
First things first, if you were expecting the debutΩ from Mr Jukes (fka Bombay Bicycle Club singer Jack Steadman) to sound anything like the work of his former band then get ready for a very immediate shock. Mr Jukes is to BBC what Africa Express is to Blur - the work of the same curious mind but expressed and explored in wildly different ways. Indeed, Damon Albarn’s inquisitive, boundary-less career path is probably the closest comparison to Steadman’s here; like Albarn, you sense that Steadman could turn his hand to classical scores as readily as he could hop back on the indie trail.
God First would like to be judged by its front and back cover. Given its playful, soul-boutique image and impressive list of guest vocalists, Mr. Jukes cuts an immediately likable image for a producer/curator--enigmatic but impeccably connected, a locus for funk, old-school R&B, golden age hip-hop, and modern pop. If all of this suggests a up-and-coming, Mark Ronson-style polyglot, take advantage of the first two minutes of God First.
Mr Jukes, the new moniker adopted by Bombay Bicycle Club's bespectacled frontman Jack Steadman, is emphatically not a solo project. Built largely on samples and bursting at the seams with high profile guest spots (BJ the Chicago Kid, Lianna La Havas and Lalah 'Daughter of Donny' Hathaway all crop up), the ethos behind his new bedroom project is every bit as (if not more) collaborative as that of his old band. By 'bedroom project' we in fact mean 'cabin project'.