Perhaps known best for the romantic, hearts-on-sleeve indie pop of first album, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, to say that Bombay Bicycle Club’s fourth album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, showcases a change would be something of an understatement. It would perhaps be disingenuous to say that these new stylings are entirely out of the blue, with nods to the band’s love of dance music coming as early as album number one. What’s more, everything is still topped off with Jack Steadman’s sweet tremulous vocals and often romantic lyricism, but it is the instrumentation that has evolved into something quite new. Supposedly influenced by the singer’s Asian travels of the past few years, the album plays host to some sublime, twinkling oriental vibes and even a smattering of wonderful Bollywood samples.
Album opener, ‘Overdone’, comes to life in a crescendo of spiralling strings and airy light percussion, building a sense of glitchy euphoria that effervesces throughout the whole record. With its uplifting brass and vocal harmonies, ‘It’s Alright Now’ sounds a bit like Sufjan Stevens gone electro, while the urban beats and pretty piano arpeggios of ‘Home By Now’ seem to recall 90s R&B. Singles ‘Carry Me’ and ‘Luna’ are certainly amongst the best songs on the album — the former with its wild propulsive melodies and looping vocals, and the latter with its sparkling tabla beats with their almost 80s feel, not to mention gorgeous guest vocals from Rae Morris.
The slow start of ‘Whenever, Wherever’ seems somewhat incongruous placed in the middle of the album, but it builds into another cheery number, rich with honeyed brass while strange swathes of synth arabesque around the sonically-tinged vocals, only to die down again at the end into a slow piano number. It is an ambitious track, though one that the band just about pull off. ‘Eyes Off You’ does something similar, if more effectively, but while it is a beautiful standalone track with Steadman’s charming, sincere falsetto intertwining seamlessly with Lucy Rose’s stunning voice — “I can’t take my eyes off you / And I bathe in the light you gave” — there is something about it that doesn’t quite gel with its placement in the album, highlighting an overall problem of a lack of cohesion.
‘Feel’ is a standout track on the record, with its lithe, heady rush and refrain of “Just one feeling” dancing on top of glorious Bollywood samples. “I can see you with my eyes shut / you’re running in my head and I can’t keep up”, Steadman romantically quips over the delightful instrumentation, and it’s somehow all a bit Disney (in the best possible way). ‘Come To’ seems like a return to a more conservative guitar rock sound, until the squelchy synths and siren-like strings come in, while the closing title track seems to encapsulate the sound of the album as a whole — slow ambience building into strange, euphoric dance pop.
Individually, most tracks on the album are genuinely a delight to listen to, but overall doesn’t quite seem to fit together, as though Bombay are getting a little too ambitious to fit onto just one LP. But for those brilliant, heady moments of perfectly encapsulated euphoria, this is certainly an album worth getting hold of.
Originally published in tn2 Magazine.