Bombay Bicycle Club is:
Jack Steadman – vocals, guitar
Jack MacColl – guitar
Ed Nash – bass
Suren de Saram – drums
Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
2. It's Alright Now
3. Carry Me
4. Home By Now
5. Whenever, Wherever
7. Eyes of You
9. Come To
10. So Long, See You Tomorrow
Running time: 54:34
Bombay Bicycle Club is a prolific band when it comes to their output of studio albums. 2009 saw the band's debut, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, released in July before almost exactly a year later we were treated to Flaws. A Different Kind of Fix was released in 2011 and as such it's been two and a half years since we've last heard from them. February 2014 sees the release of album number four, So Long, See You Tomorrow. It's by far the longest the band's fans have had to wait for new material. As regular as their new records are, it's also a common occurrence to see them reinvent their sound with each record, making a core Bombay Bicycle Club sound quite a tricky thing to pin down. The band's debut as a straight-up indie rock masterpiece, before they opted to dabble heavily in the folk genre with Flaws. 2011's A Different Kind of Fix saw an amalgamation of the two and focused heavily on acoustic sounds. So Long flips the script yet again. Frontman and producer Jack Steadman has spent the last two years travelling all corners of the globe from India, to the Netherlands, to Japan, Turkey and everywhere in between and all of those international sounds are incorporated in the band's new record, that makes heavy use of sampling and electronics. The effects are of great interest.
So Long, See You Tomorrow is the first record that Steadman has taken over full production duties and that's obviously impacted the band's sound. The benefit is of having an outside producer is that they can often challenge an artist to think outside the box and see things in a way that they never have before. The results are usually surprising and positive. On the other hand by producing your own record, an artist can ensure that the band makes the record that it wants to make even it can lead to them remaining in their comfort zone. Well “comfort zone” is a phrase with which Bombay Bicycle Club clearly isn't familiar, as their songwriting process seems to resemble throwing a load of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. In this instance what sticks is a pallet of brightly coloured dance tunes that will induce many a move at festivals around the world this summer. The question is whether they're likely to have a lasting impact.
The record opens with the all together harmless “Overcome.” The rumbling beats and trippy vibe of this opener are alarming at first but generally passive. Steadman offers an unfamiliar vocal snarl in the opening verse that is slightly jarring, but all-in-all it's an attention-grabbing opening cocktail of exotic soundscapes and dance structures. “It's All Right Now” is a track fans will already be familiar with, Steadman is back to his customary hushed vocal here, providing the talking point in front of a back drop of string loops and pounding drum beats. Vocally it's a superb effort with a pleasing falsetto climax. “Carry Me” is another track that has been released prior to the record hitting shelves, and it's a stand out. It's a chaotic, synth-driven belter of a track that minimizes vocals and lyrics in favour of pulsating drum-led rhythm building up to the repetitive but infection refrain of “you carry / you carry.”
“Home By Now” is the most un-Bombay-like track of the record so far, carried effortlessly by some luscious keyboards and percussion loops. Steadman's vocal is at its most understated here and there's considerably more emphasis put on the lyrics and the song-writing. The track is a complete gem, experimenting with some R&B sounds broadly brushed on Bombay's blank canvas with Steadman's trademark croon layered delicately on top. It's one of the more straightforward takes from the record and one of its best, undoubtedly. “Whenever, Wherever” is certainly not to be confused with Shakira's worldwide smash hit of the same name. It starts of slowly with a delicately powerful vocal against a piano backdrop and feels rather melancholy until Steadman ignites on the chorus and he sounds downright gleeful, quite surprisingly. Steadman continues in and out of this slump as the track picks up pace towards it considerable climax. “Luna” has been released previously too, so fans will by now be familiar with Rae Morris' guest vocals on this one. Her enchanting rapture meshes perfectly with Steadman's own vocal. It's one of the most upbeat numbers on the record and will surely inspire a lot of hazy drunken dancing over the coming summer months. Morris is a great addition to the track.
Lucy Rose is back! Rose provides additional vocals on the piano ballad “Eyes Off You” and to the surprise of absolutely nobody, it works brilliantly. There's less fine-tuning gone in the the after hours studio sessions on this one, it's much more of a stripped back, piano and vocal juggernaut of a track and Steadman's falsetto as he cries “I just can't take my eyes... off you,” is nothing short of phenomenal. Rose provides a husky and unassuming later verse that compliments Steadman fantastically as the song reaches a fascinating and all together overwhelming drum-laden crescendo. What follows is “Feel,” the most danceable song on the record and also the one most clearly inspired by the singer's recent travels overseas. It's like something straight out of Bollywood, with any number of exotic percussion sounds. But what keeps the track so wonderfully grounded is Steadman's vocal, so understated yet so demanding of intention. This sounds like something straight off a Friendly Fires record.
“Come To” harkens back to the band's past records more than ever with it's folk and shoegaze influence, sounding somewhat Slowdive-esque but Slowdive having had a good kick up the backside. It also passes without leaving much of an impression, unfortunately, but fans of the bands first two records will welcome it, no doubt. The title track drones and on with warbling tones and oddly hypnotic trinkets of sound that suddenly come alive well over four and a half minute wind, and all of a sudden Bombay have a second, third, fourth or maybe even fifth wind. It's that last moment of denial when you're refusing to believe that the club could be closing this early, “I mean, it's only... oh wait, it's nearly 5am!” And you suddenly realise it's high time you made your way back home, but you're doing so at the end of a night where a whole assortment of new planes of freedom have been realised. It's been an all-conquering evening and the hangover seems a long, long way off at this point.
Bombay Bicycle Club - "Luna"
The 411: Bombay Bicycle Club is a band known for continuing to evolve their sound on a regular basis and album number four is no different. So Long, See You Tomorrow is one small step for indie rock and one giant leap for dance rock as the band embrace all kinds of synths and intriguing percussion sounds and tossed them into one giant melting pot. The resulting concoction is an enjoyable fifty-minute record that will inspire thousands and thousands of people to get up and dance all around the world even if it doesn't really inspire anyone to get up a write a song. At fifty-plus minutes the band does run the risk of creating a record that overstays its welcome but thankfully the Lucy Rose-featuring “Eyes Off You” is the album's essential track and it pulls you right back in and the album finishes strongly despite the misstep of “Come To.” All in all it's another solid edition to the band's back catalogue but without a defining sound as such, it's difficult to rank where this one will sit in the band's already considerable legacy of top-notch records. In its own bubble however, So Long, See You Tomorrow is as infectious a record as you are likely to hear all year and one that just about anyone can enjoy without feeling guilty.