In a scene addled with charming young Indie bands, it’s never easy to say who’s going to be in it for the long haul. So Long, See You Tomorrow, Bombay Bicycle Club’s fourth album, certainly elevates the North Londoners above the calibre of trendy (and potentially superficial) outfits. With what appears to be a new direction for each LP, the band’s musicianship is something to be truly admired. So Long is largely compiled of influences gathered by frontman, Jack Steadman, after spending the few last years making regular trips to India. It’s subtle – as in the case of opener, ‘Overdone’ – but at other times it’s a full-blown, jiggling Bollywood sound that greets the listener; check out ‘Feel’ for the aforementioned ‘jiggle’.
Both approaches work, but you can’t help but feel a little disorientated with its inconsistency. As with their last album, A Different Kind of Fix, the songwriting is highly proficient and, for the most part, we are carried by gloriously catchy synth lines and the occasional Wolfmother riff. Choruses on tracks such as ‘Carry Me’ and ‘Luna’ demonstrate the band’s energetic and danceable qualities, but we’re also treated to slower and elegant moments exemplified by ‘Home By Now’ and ‘Eyes Off You’. The title track, ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ is doubtless the standout. Starting with a delectable sample that is accompanied by a deep brass section, the track carefully adds layers of vocal harmonies and other instrumentation that build into the Indie version of a Mahler symphony. Before settling, the brass suddenly turns Afrobeat, with guest vocalist Rae Morris repetitively urging the listener to “Keep going round and round and round” in a climatic end to the album.
Bombay are yet to release an album doesn’t reveal a refreshing musical direction for the band, but in the case of So Long, it does feel a tad hit or miss, somehow lacking the seamless flow of a truly great album. Regardless of that, they are no doubt in it for the long haul.
East India Youth
Total Strife Forever
On first listen Total Strife Forever sounds suspiciously like an elementary crash course in how to cram as many musical genres into one LP as possible. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? Yet instead of sounding like the chaotic, desperate experiment of a fallen-from-grace folk singer, William Doyle manages to pull it off with this bold and unflinching debut album. You can tell this is a man who doesn’t stay loyal to one musical mode, as the bright pop beats and shimmeringly melodic vocals of ‘Dripping Down’ neighbour the acidic techno of the instrumental ‘Hinterland’ and eventually leave the exhausted listener with the Brian Eno-esque ‘Midnight Koto’. If there is such thing as musical whiplash you’ll know about it by the end of this record. Yet, for some reason, you won’t be left unfulfilled, as the variety of this album does not compromise the quality of each individual track. The enviable diversity of East India Youth saw The Quietus establish its own music label solely to have dibs on releasing Total Strife Forever and I think an album brimming with this much self-confidence will have us all pining for a follow-up in the years to come.