Some of the songs on ‘Bugged’, the new Babybird album due out in May, are about being irritated by little things, and not letting them build-up, being listened in to, or watched without you knowing it, or being a little bugger again, young and oblivious.
This is Babybird’s eighth album in five years and probably his most defined yet. If the previous ‘There’s Something Going On’ was a deliberate exercise in moody anti-pop, this then is something of a reaction to that: a genuine effort to show the world that there’s much more to Stephen than bitter-and-twistedness.
What you’ll hear first, however, is ‘The F-Word’ (March 2000) the astonishing first single. This is as much of pacechanger as the extraordinary, funereal ‘Bad Old Man’ was last time ‘round. Now, ‘The F-Word’ marches in on the back of a playground chant and a fuzzed-up chorus. "‘The F-Word’ is a no-cussing song. A big motherfucker." says Stephen, "It was the first 8 track to be demo-ed for ‘Bugged’. ‘The F-Word’ is a song about young kids drinking cider, swinging higher and higher on the swings. Listening to a deafening radio and screaming fuck over a bleeped-out radio-friendly song called ‘The F-Word’. It’s about looking back fondly over life as a kid. Wanting to be young all over again."
Working only with Matt Hay (he engineered ‘There’s Something Going On’) and longtime collaborator guitarist Luke Scott, Stephen’s songwriting has developed a new, higher complexity, whilst retaining its uniqueness: ‘All I Want Is Love’ and ‘The Way You Are’ are big, beautiful stately ballads, ‘Out Of Sight’ ("a family song. It’s about a young daughter and the first time you have to let her out of your sight, or leave her with someone else. You can’t stop thinking about it so much, it feels wrong, you want her bugged.") is warm and countryish, and the want-away bombast of ‘Getaway’ ("‘Getaway’ is a vacation song. A big raucous bastard anthem about finding a little silence somewhere. Trying to get away and relax, to empty the mind and escape all noise. But most of all, it’s about not feeling one little bit of guilt for going.") all utterly recognisable as Babybird.
Stephen has written seventeen new songs for ‘Bugged’, a dozen or so of which will complete the album - these include ‘Fireflies’, ‘Till You Die’ and ‘14u’. "‘Fireflies’ is an old man’s song," says Jones, "He sings "Open the window, it’s hot in here..." It’s about wanting to be a kid again. When he kept bugs in a jar in the shed. About wanting to get in with them and flap about. But all his friends kept blocking up the airholes, till the lights went out. It’s about being trapped inside childhood. Feeling safe and wanting to be back there, with all that energy - warm and fired up about something.
"‘Til You Die’ is not a death song. It’s about a promise you can’t make but you’re going to make it anyway. A promise to someone that you’ll be there forever, or until you die... whatever comes first."
"‘The Xmas God Of New York’, ‘One Dead Groove’, ‘Wave
Your Hands In The Air’, ‘Love Love Love’, ‘The Same’ and
‘Eyes In The Back Of Your Head’ are some of the other
songs on ‘Bugged’. ‘Bugged’ is Babybird lightened-up. The
previous album ‘There’s Something Going On’ had to be
deliberately dark to exorcise a few demons. It was fun while
it lasted, but it’s time to start fresh, to make a good stab at