For five years, Bombay Bicycle Club were the face of the indie mainstream. The announcement of their hiatus in 2015 left a void which the likes of Blossoms and Catfish and the Bottlemen have tried – and failed – to fill. Bombay’s second wind not only plasters the cracks, but goes some way to retrieving the Indie fans who lost faith during the interim.
In their 4 years apart, BBC’s members have taken time to pursue personal endeavours, which had to be foregone during early adulthood as the band grew into an unshakeable force. Frontman Jack Steadman made a solo album as Mr Jukes, Bassist Ed Nash released an album as Toothless and Suren de Saram continued as a Session Drummer, whilst Guitarist Jamie MacColl pursued academia.
With the 10th anniversary of inaugural LP I Had the Blues, but I Shook Them Loose looming, the band met at the pub. “Having spent some time apart,” Suren said, recalling the band’s first coming. ‘We realised how special and meaningful it was to all of us, in our own way’. The organic – almost understated – way in which Bombay have reformed seems to have alleviated some of the pressure from the release of their fifth album.
Album opener ‘Get Up’ is an uplifting number that incorporates the old with the new; elements of Steadman’s solo jazz project shine through in the opening saxophone solo. It sets the tone for a refreshing and redefining album, shaped by the time apart which made space for a new take on songwriting.
The songwriting partnership between Steadman and Nash has facilitated a shift from personal ponderings on relationships to a broader lexicon on the issues faced by the band collectively such as ageing and climate change; which is reflective of the band’s progression from a collective of teens to adults in their late 20’s. This is most apparent in ‘Good Day’, one of the most stripped back and reflective numbers. Nash’s lyrics touch on daily struggles that accompany life in 2019, whilst maintaining an optimistic tone that seems to underpin the whole album.
‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’ and ‘Eat Sleep Wake (Nothing But You)’ feel like a gentle nod to the band’s first album with their catchy hooks and guitar riffs, that have already lead them to be cornerstones of Spotify and radio playlist alike. Long-term collaborator to the band, Liz Lawrence, co-writes and features on ‘People People’, where her cheery tone perfectly complements that of Steadman’s.
“Soft blue light on the bed, watch till your eyes turn red” coos Steadman on ‘Do You Feel Loved?’, which builds on a dancehall beat and flute sample to create an unmistakable mixture of uplift and melancholy. Standing out as one of the defining tracks on the album; it explores the effects of technology on interpersonal relationships and society in general.
‘Let You Go’ sees the addition of a predominant synth element, which is new to Bombay’s sound and fashionable within the current indie scene, another exhibition of the band effortlessly changing with the times. Finally, Racing Stripes, which features singer/songwriter Billie Marten, ends the album with a melodic loop of ‘this light will keep me going’; looking towards the future of the band, whilst celebrating what they have already achieved together.
The brilliance of BBC stems from their ability to produce reliable albums whilst simultaneously rearranging and redefining their sound each time. Everything Else has Gone Wrong is the “least sanitised record we’ve ever made”, according to Steadman, and another perfect example of a solid album that will deliver everything that fans have been holding out for, whilst simultaneously stretching and emboldening their sound to new heights.
Bombay Bicycle Club’s Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is released on January 17th and is available to pre-order now. Bombay head off on a full UK tour later this month, including a headline date at London’s Alexandra Palace. For more info, album pre-orders and tickets head to bombaybicycle.club