Banal Bicycle Club?

Note to reader: Bombay Bicycle Club is one of my favourite bands. Their 2014 album So Long See You Tomorrow is probably my favourite album: It’s dreamy, nostalgic, bucolic, and lyrically perfect. 

When Bombay broke up I turned to the jazz-fusion work of Mr Jukes, the solo project of BBC’s lead singer, Jack Steadman, and hoped another masterpiece would one day emerge. Five years later, I was at Dundee’s Caird Hall watching them on their I Had The Blues But Shook Them Loose reboot tour. They had just released Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You) and Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

I was hopeful. The former was the soundtrack to the end of my road-trip summer with my boyfriend. The latter has hooks I remembered and well-constructed lyrics that reassured me at the beginning of first year. If these were the singles, the album would be full of varying styles of absolute bangers that meant something. 

Then they released their last two singles, marking the beginning of the end. While Racing Stripes has a familiar dramatic slow build to existential joy and nonchalant hope, I Can Hardly Speak is just…alright. The melodies are repetitive, the bridge painfully average, it’s saved only by the grace of a satisfying crescendo at the end. 

Upon the release of the complete album a week ago, there were no more surprises. Good Day is reminiscent of  Noah and the Whale: a palatable soundtrack for a walk in London in your twenties. Whilst the lyrics are relatable — “I just wanna have a good day, but it’s only me that’s standing in my way” —  they are nothing like the magic or nostalgia of any of their previous work. Do You Feel Loved? is nice but that’s it. It’s just nice. While their other albums feel complete, half of Everything Else Has Gone Wrong are skippable tracks that feel like nothing at all. 

I love Bombay a lot. I’m going to see them in a few weeks at Ally Pally, after which I will report if the album is any better live. The band has said that I Worry Bout You — a heartfelt love song — is going to have an unusual live production so I look forward to the potential for another classic bop.

It seems that Bombay are adjusting to their lives together as a band again. With their 2014 album totally trumping their first three and their ten years together only improving their sound, I really believe they’ll get better. In the meantime, I’ve got the balance of their discography to while away the hours.


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