Release Date: Jan 17, 2012
Record label: Octone Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
For A Different Kind of Fix, British foursome Bombay Bicycle Club continue on their journey to find a defining sound. Starting with post-rock, guitar-centric I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, BBC then unplugged and went on a trip to folk town with the acoustic and doleful album Flaws. Here, Jack Steadman and company pick up their electric guitars and start plucking.
You may be forgiven if the latest album by British indie band Bombay Bicycle Club has slipped under your radar. After all, the band seem to be forever releasing new material (this, album number three, is being released just two years after their début). Or perhaps you've intentionally let this album pass you by, having heard some of the inconsistent and largely uninspiring output released by the band to date.
The title of Bombay Bicycle Club’s 2010 album, Flaws, is half-ironic, yet also half-true. On one hand, it disembarks (for the better) from the pop of 2009’s debut, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, diving deep into the singer-songwriter vein of M. Ward and Conor Oberst with primarily all-acoustic tracks. This proved upon its release last year that the college-aged quartet weren’t just four boys who knew how to write catchy dance beats, but grown men who knew how to write compelling and emotive songs.
A hell of a lot’s been made of [a]Bombay Bicycle Club[/a]’s supposedly ‘baggy’ new direction. Since the emergence of extremely shuffly lead single [b]‘Shuffle’[/b] the Londoners have found themselves set up as reckless genre-slicing reinventors. “Look!” we cry.
Bombay Bicycle Club currently find themselves in the very common position of being liked and respected, but not quite shifting a proportionate amount of records. Their third album since they left school as many years ago feels like a confident effort to redress the balance. Opener How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep, their Bright Eyesish Twilight soundtrack contribution, sets the template for the finer tracks here – a lilting repetition slowly builds, all bouncy sensitivity and earnest determination.
Bombay Bicycle Club’s third album, A Different Kind of Fix, arrives late and with a certain air of mystery. Any late album comes with the added intrigue of the unknown causes for its delay, the kind of thing that is most likely simple and logical but that we all like to mythologize as the result of drug abuse and in-fighting and broken-hearted benders into temporary oblivion. But I’ll move on to what’s actually important, the music.
Bombay Bicycle Club's 2011 album A Different Kind of Fix is a melodically compelling work that builds upon the band's eclectic guitar-based indie rock sound. Featuring production from Jim Abbiss, who produced the band's 2009 debut I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, Fix is a move away from the more acoustic vibe of 2010's Flaws and back toward an electric, oft dance-oriented sound. Tracks like the circular and funky "How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep" and the hummable "Shuffle" are perfect late summer afternoon jams that bring to mind a mix of '80s Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush.
It's incredibly easy to say "forget everything you know about Bombay Bicycle Club," when they really haven't established much of an identity to begin with. But I'll try to sum it up: If you've ever wondered what might happen if Editors were fronted by a freak-folk singer, by all means pick up their debut. Meanwhile, on last year's mostly acoustic soft parade Flaws, they sounded like they'd get their lunch money stolen by Kings of Convenience.
Perhaps it's their tender years or that grating name that's allowed Bombay Bicycle Club to be unfairly dismissed as fey, jangly music for teenage mix tapes. Their third album has those qualities, but it's also full of exquisite moments. Animal Collective producer Ben Allen has ushered in a more textured sound via loops and layered vocals which find consonance with the querulous-voiced Jack Steadman.
Such is Bombay Bicycle Club’s genteel rise to prominence, A Different Kind Of Fix virtually comes pre-packaged with its own hackneyed review. ‘After the awkward swagger of their debut and a sidestep of burgeoning maturity in Flaws, this North London four-piece have finally scaled the heights they always threatened to,’ reads the imaginary assessment. Disappointingly, reality falls some way short of such an appraisal.
A mature mix of jaunty and jaundiced music from the north Londoners. Chris Roberts 2011 It’s okay if you’re a little irritating if you’re also annoyingly good. Bombay Bicycle Club, young and fey when they pedalled onto the scene four years ago and now looking even younger and acting even more feyly, may still not be embraced by those who feel the post-Belle and Sebastian school of anti-rock merits a good slap rather than a hug and an exclamation of "aw, bless", but it’s getting increasingly difficult to deny their talent.