Release Date: Feb 4, 2014
Record label: Vagrant
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Bombay Bicycle Club's fourth studio album, 2014's So Long, See You Tomorrow, finds the band building upon the dance-oriented sound of 2011's A Different Kind of Fix while still remaining faithful to their melodic, introspective indie rock roots. Once again centered around the lead vocals of Jack Steadman, the album was purportedly written while Steadman was traveling through Europe and India, and many of the songs on So Long, See You Tomorrow contain samples of the various sounds, music, and rhythms Steadman encountered on his trip. And while there are definitely Bollywood-esque qualities here, especially on such songs as the hypnotic and driving "Overdone" and the equally as swirling "Carry Me," the results are never overt or heavy-handed.
Bombay Bicycle Club have always been a band weaving between cycle lanes trying out different kinds of fixes. Debut ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ is a ferociously well written, boisterous racket of songs that imbed themselves quicker than Bodger’s mischievous mate Badger, burrowing his way through a school’s air duct in search of mashed potato. It was followed by ‘Flaws’, a gnarled piece of knuckled folk-pine.
Considering the usual work rate of Bombay Bicycle Club – with three albums in three years since the release of their excellent debut in 2009 – the two-year wait for their latest offering, So Long, See You Tomorrow, appears almost extensive in comparison. Yet what has always been more remarkable than their prolific album turnover is the foursome’s ability to consistently progress their sound with each new release. It is something that few expected of them when they burst onto the scene with the guitar-heavy indie rock of I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, with many dismissing them as another distant relation of The Strokes.
It’s inappropriate to talk about Bombay Bicycle Club’s “evolution," since that word assumes some kind of logical progression. Between 2009 and 2011, the London group released three albums—one as an affable post-punk-pop Arctic Vampires hybrid, another as a “quiet is the new loud” retread and, on the surprisingly vigorous, Ben H. Allen-helmed A Different Kind of Fix, a third that was sleek and streamlined Urban Outfitters mixtape filler.
Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You TomorrowWhile Bombay Bicycle Club’s desire to approach every new album as an opportunity to reinvent themselves is admirable, it has led to a situation where none of their guises has lasted long enough to feel particularly satisfying. Whether as spindly indie kids (2009’s ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’), fey alt. folkies (‘Flaws’, in 2010) or dance-rockers (2011’s ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’), something about them always ends up ringing a little hollow.
Ahead of this year's Mercury prize, DiS in partnership with Naim Audio's new wireless music system, mu-so, will help you GoDeeper into 2014's nominated albums. Today, we would like to turn your attention to Bombay Bicycle Club, by republishing our review from earlier this year... You can read read their Planet Gear guide to their instruments and album production amongst our coverage of all of this year's nominees on our Mercury Prize 2014 mini-site.
Bombay Bicycle Club has never been a band to stand still. They’ve experimented with their sound on every album, from the blues influenced I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose to the folk infused Flaws. Though their newest album has a lot in common with their third record, A Different Kind of Fix, So Long See You Tomorrow has the band playing with a more psychedelic and polished sound.
Eight years since fitting festival appearances around their GCSEs, Bombay Bicycle Club are starting to feel like a venerable indie institution. Time then for songwriter Jack Steadman to go electronic. In truth, the band have experimented with loops and samples for some time, but not with the conviction that they do here. Carry Me opens with a barrage of abrasive synths, while Whenever, Wherever shifts from tremulous torch song to turbo-charged indie banger.
Between 2009 and 2011, Bombay Bicycle Club made three albums, each one taking a 90-degree swerve from the sound of the last. With 18 extra months lavished on it, So Long, See You Tomorrow raises mild expectations of total, unimaginable self-reinvention. Instead it sticks pleasingly, if a touch disappointingly, to the lithe, artful dance-rock of its predecessor, A Different Kind of Fix – what's changed is the palette, the texture.
Transition periods for artists vary greatly, depending in some part on the proximity of the “new” and “old” sounds an artist contributes to each record. London four-piece Bombay Bicycle Club play things a little too close to the rulebook: elements of their previous work (see Flaws and A Different Kind of Fix) flow very well with their new release, So Long, See You Tomorrow, but a repressed, uninspired, deceptive sensation tingles throughout. It’s the sort of cliché feeling of being re-exposed to specific bells and whistles that had defined various indie sub-genres a while ago, a move from a band working towards a big next step.
Something about Bombay Bicycle Club’s inherent twee-ness often invites scathing criticism. Props to the Crouch End four piece then, for bringing a slice of summer to bitterly cold months. Written after a four year interlude of globetrotting across Turkey, Japan, The Netherlands and India, their fourth full-length release is a buoyant and exotic affair, cementing their status as indie-pop crossover kings.
In the years that followed Bombay Bicycle Club’s breakthrough full-length LP A Different Kind Of Fix, primary songwriter and lead vocalist Jack Steadman filled his spare moments by gallivanting across the globe. Turkey, Japan, India and The Netherlands were all vital pit-stops, and he’d discover fresh sounds and immerse himself in culture on his edifying sojourns. Respite from his lonesome trekking would be found in the welcoming arms of local families.
Sun Kil Moon, Benji (Stream) Heartbreaking and raw, Benji is Sun Kil Moon’s best album to date, and indisputably cements Mark Kozelek’s reputation as one of the finest storytellers in contemporary indie music. Kozelek focuses each song around a central character or theme—usually friends or family from Ohio who have died or in some way encountered death—and combines tightly woven narratives with his own captivating and idiosyncratic free association to explore the way in which humans process other people’s tragedies through their own experiences. The sparse musical arrangements and haunting production only serve to heighten the album’s intimacy and ultimately render it a masterpiece of reflection and introspection, destined to be played on repeat in scores of late-night, tired, and lonely rooms.