North London quartet Bombay Bicycle Club were barely out of short trousers when they released I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose - they could scarcely buy a carton of milk without somebody accusing them of being precocious. But it looks like they've gone away for a year and done some serious growing up, if this second offering is anything to go by. A gushing attempt at stripped down, acoustic sincerity, Flaws could be the band's very own I Speak Because I Can.
Last year's I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose unveiled Bombay Bicycle Club as an indie band with zest, harmonies and effects pedals. However, the follow-up finds them ditching electric guitars for acoustic folk, enabling guitarist Jamie MacColl to follow his dynastic calling – his musician father Neill co-produces. There are some lovely songs – Many Ways is particularly pleasantly reminiscent of the first Lilac Time album.
Named after a bourgeois curry franchise, Bombay Bicycle Club made quite a stir a few years ago with EPs The Boy I Used to Be and How We Are. These records issued the band’s signature sound, and were as creamy white and tempered as those restaurants’ interiors. There was a politeness to them, perhaps a lack of bite. It turns out that this has been the band’s staple ever since, but there was also a restless creativity to those EPs that helped to push them to the top of the UK Indie Charts.
Bombay Bicycle Club's debut album, last year's I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, posited the group as imitative but energetic post-punk revivalists, doling out artily precise pop-rockers with liveliness and strong chops. The band now follows that effort with its all-acoustic sophomore long-player, Flaws. Wait, did I miss a few steps? Since when does a boisterous young rock group make a full-on introspective acoustic move on its second freaking album? This may come as a shock, but Bombay Bicycle Club didn't exactly master its initial sound on its debut (most bands don't manage that feat in just one album).
Difficult second album syndrome neatly avoided by north London indie kids. Paul Lester 2010 There was a vogue last year for second albums that were markedly different to the artists in question’s debuts. Jack Peñate, The Maccabees and The Horrors all changed direction, and mostly for the better. The latter in particular earned praise for their about-turn, from mediocre goth-rock to a tantalising blend of krautrock and post-My Bloody Valentine drone.