Buggy Jive Delivers a Flawless Follow-Up Album with “I Don’t Understand How the World Works”
ALBANY – Bryan Thomas, known by his stage name of Buggy Jive, released another exemplary album on January 14th with I Don’t Understand How the World Works. Blending elements of progressive rock, soul, hip-hop, and rap, along with various forms of prose and cutting social commentary, Buggy Jive carved out something truly special. Creating a statement in which those listening would have to diligently work to ignore if they end up walking away with nothing, there ended up being a lot to digest in just five songs. Let’s dig in.
The opening track, “Heartbeat on the Five,” started off with an airy synth, followed by a fantastic groove of bass and drums in a time signature usually heard in genres such as progressive rock and jazz. The lyrics were a bit tongue-in-cheek; they address the rhythm of the track. While self-referencing one’s own groove might seem cheeky, it worked here. Until this particular track, this listener hadn’t heard rap in this meter, nor had they heard the phrase “iambic pentameter” used in such a song. As the song faded out, the Intro lyrics were re-used and blended with the outro vocals nicely.
“Yo Foot, My Ass,” the following track, began with a nice drum fill as the intro. A song that anthropomorphized a guitar as a woman – a fact especially revealed in later lyrics – Buggy Jive used this device to point the finger at himself, saying he could be doing more to effect real change. He successfully painted this picture by having the guitar criticize him, rather than having him blatantly criticize himself. The guitar solo in this tune was a nice addition to the arrangement. By the third track, this album grounded itself as being an incredible example of songwriting and blending of genres.
The full band kicked right in during the intro of “One Drop Rules.” What really stood out for me in this tune was the bass groove – I really appreciated it. On top of this, Buggy Jive used the terms of black, white, and the concept of not seeing grey (various shades) to highlight important social commentary. For this listener, the overarching message of the song was clearly defined: ignorance towards those that fall outside of purely white culture leads to people making false conclusions and generalizations. Funk grooves, along with rock elements were blended with a rap section that was featured near the end of song. The line, “Privilege begins with the benefit of the doubt,” really caught my ear. As the song approached its end, an acoustic guitar was heard, along with a synth. Simply put, this is a great song.
Past the halfway point and onto the latter half, listeners are greeted with “Unresolved.” The song began with an acoustic guitar and drum intro. As the verse entered, the melody was heard following the guitar line, as harmonies entered near the end of each verse. The phrase “I’ll be fine” was used as the refrain during the choruses, begging those that listen to ponder: “Is he telling me this, or is he trying to convince himself?” The song featured quirky lyrics that poke fun at himself while being self-referential to the first track’s lyric: “Hurry up/Please, it’s time.” As with his previous release, fans got another glimpse into Buggy Jive’s Joni Mitchell influence when he referenced her song, “Help Me,” during the song’s conclusion.
The closing and title track, “I Don’t Understand How the World Works,” was perhaps the most thought provoking. Featuring a grooving drum and percussion intro, the lyrics were in more of a talking feel than a strict melody. Throughout the entire song the bedrock of the compelling groove remained, as the narrator discussed the financial aspect of life and the world in such an oblique way; it sketched out how much of our existence is akin to a weirdly dreamt up fallacy that shouldn’t be true. Most of the song was in spoken-word, however there were nice vocals found in the backup section of the song. During the last verse of the track, another character was heard talking back to the narrator with an overall attitude of “What’s your problem?” He then continued to spell out in quite a frank manner how all the institutions the narrator railed against were actually what the narrator, as well as many people in the world, rely on. Almost in a way, it felt like this global dystopia that we are steering toward was being rationalized by the second character in this song.
Buggy Jive did it again and did so amazingly well. For fans of genres of funk, hip-hop, rap, and soul, this is an album that is sure to deliver. Don’t sleep on this album! Check it out for yourself by listening on any major streaming platform, such as Spotify, and Apple Music. You can support the artist directly by following the links at the bottom of the article.