It wasn’t too long ago that North London group Bombay Bicycle Club were being dismissed along with just about every other white English guitar band as ‘indie landfill’. That all changed with their third album – 2011’s A Different Kind Of Fix – which showcased enough originality to mark BBC out as a band of character and direction, rather than mere indie bandwagon-jumpers.
Emboldened by the success of that album, and enriched by frontman Jack Steadman’s recent backpacking trip, Bombay Bicycle Club return with a confident fourth album which is both experimental and cohesive.
The most striking thing about So Long, See You Tomorrow is the lack of guitars – with the majority of the songs being much more beat-led. This makes for some captivating moments in its own right, like the progressive lead single ‘Carry Me’, but also opens up the album to a variety of different influences.
‘Carry Me’ stream
‘It’s Alright Now’ is probably the best example of the band’s freedom, with harmonies and melodies being thrown into the mix almost at will.
‘It’s Alright Now’ stream
‘Eyes Off You’ goes more for the brooding soundscape approach of James Blake, while ‘Luna’ (featuring Rae Morris on guest vocals) is underpinned by a distinct Middle Eastern flavour. Jack’s travels also weave their way into the magical ‘Feel’, which actually starts off a bit like Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’.
‘Come To’ sees the guitars come back higher in the mix, but in more of a swirling Kevin Shields-type way which adds an interesting layer of texture onto an already brilliant song.
To be honest, that could be said about every song on the album. The whole thing is full of texture – some subtle, some more pronounced – derived from a variety of different influences, all held together beautifully by Steadman, who has never sounded more in control.
I’ve held off giving So Long, See You Tomorrow a full five-stars as I don’t think I’ve listened to it enough yet – but I may well return to this review in a few weeks and stick that extra half-a-star on!