Album Review... Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow

Sometimes you hear an album and feel immersed in a different world, Bombay Bicycle Club’s fourth album is no exception with it feeling like an adventure from the word go. So Long, See You Tomorrow is probably the album we’ve craved for a long time from the growing four-piece. While still incorporating their youthful energy and experimental production, this creation is definitely a little more off the beaten track.  Described as a “revolution of sound, not an evolution” by bassist Ed Nash, the new release is certainly far from their shimmering indie-rock debut and the groove-driven A Different Kind Of Fix. A simple way of summarising the sound produced is electro-rock, but this doesn’t give an indication to the overall virtuosity of their first-ever Jack Steadman produced album.

                The synthesiser-driven tracks use an array of loops and samples from music from around the world; most likely influenced by their long touring schedule including phases in India and Turkey. You’d think you’d be confused upon reading that “continuity is the theme” and then concluding that not one song sounds the same upon listening; but in fact, all the different styles, each unexpected as the next, do run fluently with balance. An interesting feature of the album is that it’s subtly unified by one single loop, as the melody of the final song picks up that of the opener. Compounding the effect is the last lyric we hear “Keep going round and round and round…” The idea of continuity lies evidence to the interactive video for album teaser ‘Carry Me’ and the album artwork inspired by stop-motion pioneer Eadweard Muybridge. The image depicts a man and woman travelling in opposite directions under the moon and sun and is designed to echo the theme of continuity in the album.

                ‘Overdone’ is the triumphant, string-laden opener which kick-starts the album with a raucous instrumental section of commanding percussion and piercing guitars. Running through the infectious ‘It’s Alright Now’, we’re delivered gentler grooves akin to that of A Different Kind Of Fix but this time the tender sentiments are offset by invigorating military-funky percussion. ‘Carry Me’ was the first teaser from the album that was unleashed upon us unsuspectingly. The muscular, experimental tune is a radical departure from that of their previous albums as above all it is a dance anthem. The whirly electric guitars and shimmery keys are brilliantly juxtaposed against the strong, offbeat rhythms. Nothing else on the new record sounds like ‘Carry Me’ – the album flows effortlessly through a collection of aural landscapes that blend into a coherent whole. ‘Home By Now’ immerses in harmonies as nu-folk meets hip hop and is topped off by the sweet backing vocals of long-time collaborator Lucy Rose (who features throughout the record). A personal highlight on the record comes in the form of slow burner ‘Whenever Wherever’ which begins following a simple piano hook and ethereal vocals, but then suddenly breaks into an unpretentious electro-house jam. The song seems designed for a festival afternoon with fluctuating sensitive, downcast moments and dance driven rhythms that make you want to smash plates.
                The most recently previewed track ‘Luna’ continues with breezier antics, balloon-sized harmonies and dwells on the sense of wondrous curiosity. The Indian influence is shown here again, with a Tabla beginning and a Bhangra style beat running through out. The clean composition is aided by the combination of a male-female chorus which makes it feel very current. Emerging talent Rae Morris features throughout the record too with ‘Luna’ being her establishing collaboration single. ‘Eyes Off You’ is a tender duet which briefly breaks away from the dance offensive and portrays a sea of calm by using closed mics and a piano measure. The track gently swells from a waiflike ballad to a Balearic relaxation. Follow up ‘Feel’ is the bravest track on the new album which will inevitably leave many fans sitting on the fence. I, for one, am not perturbed by the extreme departure from all produced before. It’s a spicy party driven by a hypnotic hook from a 1950s Bollywood film soundtrack. The genius of this track incorporates not only Turkish belly dance blips, but is also part Mariachi band (with an incontestable salsa beat) and holds some Greek tavern aura. ‘Come To Me’ is a delight that sways towards the groove of A Different Kind Of Fix and has a hint of romanticism. But Jack Steadman has insisted that it’s “very much a stream-of-consciousness thing,” and that the audience should “be the psychologist that analyses it.” The idea of allowing the listeners to interpret the lyrics in their own way supports the idea of hopefulness. The album ends with the title track ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ which ends the ongoing loop and melts all the sounds and influences together in a euphoric conclusion. The genre and culture spanning album is wrapped up by a long series of chords and an airey falsetto that waltzes in and out of melody. The gentle ending is false and the track gives you one last enraptured electro-finish (that like The Chemical Brothers).

                This gem will certainly stand out in 2014 and for years to come, as it will be a career defining checkpoint for the young lads – similar to that of Given To The Wild by The Maccabees. Released on the 3rd February this year on Island Records, I seriously advise you to buy this album; it will certainly be a strong contender for my potential album of the year (it’s only January, I know).

Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
Out of 10: 9.3/10

Written by – Richard Maver

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