Bombay Bicycle Club reinvents its sound one more time

Inspired by the lead singer’s international travels, ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ combines world music melodies and electric indie-pop sensibilites.  (Photo provided by popmatters.com)
Inspired by the lead singer’s international travels, ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ combines world music melodies and electric indie-pop sensibilites. (Photo provided by popmatters.com)

After years of exploring and constantly trying to redefine its sound with each successive album, English indie pop-rock quartet Bombay Bicycle Club has finally found its musical niche.

The band has forgone the ho-hum guitar melodies and opted for samples of ethereal-sounding world music, carefully layered over electronically-tinged pop psychedelia to create a sincerely fun pop album.

Written during lead singer Jack Steadman’s journeys through India, Japan, the Netherlands and Turkey, “So Long, See You Tomorrow” is refreshing in that it displays a wider range of experimentation with electronic instruments, in contrast to the group’s previous, often forgettable and easily-dismissed sound. What is most interesting about the album is it exudes a euphoric brand of upbeat playfulness, while simultaneously touting the band’s newly-discovered musical focus and maturity.

“So Long, See You Tomorrow” is an album that proves  you can have earnest songwriting and still have music that moves and inspires people, without coming off as corny. The first track, “Overdone” is the best on the album, channeling the psychedelic musical excess of groups like Animal Collective and The Who.

“Luna” is a vast, expansive track that is the best example of the “more is more” attitude of this album, also featuring upbeat vocals by Rae Morris.

The band’s extensive use of syncopated drum loops and chopped up vocal samples send the album veering into a sound that is reminiscent of hip-hop in certain spots, namely in “Home By Now.” Steadman’s extensive global travels come blaringly to the forefront on “Feel,” with a rather incessant Bollywood soundtrack sample and kitschy guitar hooks that slowly infect your brain until you hate yourself for toe-tapping along. “Carry Me” is the album’s most danceable song and the song that’s begging to be remixed by a big name DJ in festival tents this summer.

But there is some fat that needs to be trimmed. “Eyes Off You” is a meandering piano ballad that stops the album’s momentum dead. “It’s Alright Now” is a disappointing track in that it falls into the trap of being mediocre and saccharine; sounding like a bad imitation of a Bastille song. “Whenever, Wherever” is jumble of sounds that would happily find its place as filler for Urban Outfitters in-store playlist.

“So Long, See You Tomorrow” is by no means a perfect album, and it does not try to be. No one can hold Bombay Bicycle Club’s honesty and enthusiasm against the band when it comes to making music. The band has always found ways to constantly adapt musically and challenge its listeners, and will continue to do so. As hokey and phoned-in as it sounds, “So Long, See You Tomorrow” is an ode to unabashedly wearing your heart on your sleeve and is entirely admirable for that.

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