New York – Swerving in unexpected directions with each release, Bombay Bicycle Club is not an act that fears change. Never shy to switch up their sonic styling, this London-based alt-rock outfit has just released their fourth studio album. So Long, See You Tomorrow is predictably unpredictable in acutely profound ways.
An all-star cast, the band is Jack Steadman as least vocalist, guitarist and pianist, guitarist Jamie MacColl and bassist Ed Nash. BBC’s percussionist is Suren de Saram, son of the classical cellist Rohan de Saram. In 2008 the group signed with Island Records, and the label has hosted all subsequent releases to date.
Bombay Bicycle Club released their debut studio album, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, back in 2009. Their first LP was guitar-heavy, and peppered with handsome rock ballads. Flaws followed in 2010. An entirely acoustic affair, it was an album based in the realm of folk. In 2011 they gave us A Different Kind of Fix, in which they returned to the electronic guitar-riff ambiance of their first release, but with added boldness. This was BBC’s most critically acclaimed album to date, and numbered 6th on the charts in the UK.
And now, these boys veer in a new direction all together with So Long, See You Tomorrow. Released on February 3rd, the latest sees BBC at their most experimental yet.
This is the first album produced by front man Steadman. In fact, Steadman wrote the album during his travels through India, Japan and Turkey. Drawing on sonic influences from abroad, the instrumentation trades the heavy guitar work of past records for swirling compositions typical of world music.
The first cut was “Carry Me,” which came to us last November accompanied by a surreal but inspired interactive music video. A heavy-hitting track, it is reminiscent of the boldness inherent in A Different Kind of Fix. However, “Carry Me”’ is not representative of the album’s overarching atmosphere.
Tracks like “It’s Alright Now,” “Eyes Off You” and the title track betray BBC at their most emotionally intelligent elevation, embracing affecting sensibilities and melodic swells. These songs are serious, slow but not brooding, and reveal the type of maturation that can only be attained with passing time. Conversely, jams like “Overdone” and “Luna” return listeners to the youthful energy that drew fans to this group from day one.
Arguably, two outliers on the record are “Home By Now” and “Feel.” The former opens with influences of R&B, yet returns the tempo to a restorative pace. UK vocalist Lucy Rose lends to the soothing nature of this jam, in what feels like an epic venture in self-discovery. In stark contrast, “Feel” finds Steadman’s exploration in full swing. This track is like a crowded street bazaar; sparkly like copper coated coffee tables and colorful like a pile of oriental carpets. The title track concludes the record, spiraling off into a veritable sonic maze. The album ends in a confusing yet intriguing tangent and, classically, we realize we might love this band without fully understanding them.
The greatest strength of this album is also its main trouble. The record succeeds precisely because it betrays evident growth, from conception to execution. However, at times the album drones a bit too deeply, and therefor risks loosing the kind of listener who was waiting for more bouncy tracks like 2011’s “Shuffle.” This is an album that demands more time than most. Like sitting for a time with a long work of prose, this record invites reflection. Those listeners who approach the LP with careful intention will stand to gain a great deal in return.
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