Released 3rd February, 2014
It is amazing how much a band seems to change whilst still essentially staying the same. For all the exotic and far flung influences infused into their new album, Bombay Bicycle Club are still four North London boys with a stupidly funky name. They’re past the debut of indie teenage angst, the suprise folk and an unexpected electronic tangent third album – now what?
Nearly 3 years later, they finally answer. From the opening track of So Long, See You Tomorrow, ‘Overdone’, the new direction rings clear. Orchestral samples worthy of The Avalanches build to a massive atmospheric jam complete with tumbling slide riffs on Ed Nash’s bass guitar and Suren de Saram’s gigantic new drum sound. Lead singer and guitarist Jack Steadman’s voice sounds much more confident, whether with the trademark frailty or digital manipulation in the refrain of lead single ‘Carry Me’ – the strongest song on the album and possibly of their entire career to date.
Even on a single album, these aren’t the type of guys to repeat themselves. ‘Home By Now’ delivers the next tune to the backdrop of a beat built from harp and string samples. But annoyingly Bombay can’t seem to sit still on a single track either, as the hip-hop sample aesthetic soon gives way to the tried and tested methods of the guitar. ‘Whenever Wherever’ rides the wave of a classic breakbeat and solid synth riffs before swapping out for a slow, tender piano ballad that segues into new single ‘Luna’.
The less said about ‘Luna’ the better, and the slow ‘Eyes Off You’ tries to make your eyelids feel extremely heavy in what seems like some sort of misguided apology. Yet if you listen carefully for the next 30 seconds, the start of ‘Feel’ is the best thing on the album. Samples of Arabian music intertwine with an electronic bass line to create a moment (tragically) cut short by yet another attempt to create a ‘dance inspired quirky indie track’. For a band that has gained so much ground with experimentation in the past, many of their new ideas come across as shallow and short-lived. At their worst, they seem to rely on past innovations with tons of production tricks that tie handfuls of interesting yet short and unconnected ideas together.