If there’s one good thing to have emerged from the temporary loss of Bombay Bicycle Club, it is most definitely lead singer Jack Steadman’s solo project Mr Jukes. In his own words, Steadman has proclaimed ‘God First’ as something he’s “been dreaming of making … for years now” – and it’s easy to see evidence of this in Bombay Bicycle Club’s slow drift away from indie-rock, particularly in their last album ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’.
As one could expect, Mr Jukes’ sound is one not too distant from later Bombay Bicycle Club releases – yet it maintains an element of individuality and difference. Foremost, this is showcased in Ruby, as early on in ‘God First’, Steadman rings true to the influence of his previous involvement, but churns the sound into a hip-hop fosterling. Somebody New solidifies this evolutionary sound as the guest appearance from Elli Ingram is met with a sampladelic sound comforted by a waivering bassline.
Steadman’s musical prowess is also demonstrated by tracks like Grant Green and Angels/Your Love, as their bombastic instrumentation exemplify Mr Jukes’ roots in funk and soul. Moreover, vocal appearances from Charles Bradley and BJ The Chicago Kid feature in the soul-driven songs, and deliver a refreshing sound. Contrastingly, ‘God First’ feels almost resigned into this newfound stylistic turn, as Leap of Faith and Typhoon claim the position as ‘filler’ tracks by settling into the over-produced hip-hop vibe that Mr Jukes sometimes slips into.
Drifting into a more mellow sound, Magic incorporates blissful vocals and a soulful gospel-like sound to shift the album’s tone. Tears follows on, with the assembly of Jack Steadman & Alexandria creating a trip-hop esque soundscape of chilled samples and overblown drum tracking. Closing off ‘God First’, When Your Light Goes Out is the pinnacle of the album, as it combines all the different styles featured earlier on for a climactic and euphoric finale.
On the whole, Mr Jukes is adventurous, but tame; innovative, yet recycled. ‘God First’ is an unorthodox album, drawing in influences from different genres, though falters in its pretentious tendencies, innately identified by inflated samples.
Words by Jasmin Robinson