Music Critic Chloe Hyde claims that Bombay Bicycle Club’s new album has something to offer new and old listeners alike
Bombay Bicycle Club’s fifth studio album Everything Else Has Gone Wrong has been released to the world after their three-year hiatus beginning back in 2016, and also being the latest album released by the group in 6 years since So Long, See You Tomorrow in 2014. And with such a long gap, comes high expectations for something spectacular, and I was dying for this album to be just that.
If you’ve ever listened to this band, you’ll know they’re a little different compared to the typical indie rock bands which are ever-present in the scene. At least from my perspective, the focus of their tracks seems to be much more on the instruments which the band employs, creating an extremely unique and wacky sound which you won’t have heard anywhere else. While this comeback album is wholly nostalgic and exuberant, it is very busy and there’s always lots going on within each singular track.
The opening track, ‘Get Up’ is suspenseful, gradually intensifying as if the band are building up to a dramatic climax and anticipating all of their new tracks to unfold to the listener. There are minimal lyrics, allowing the layering of instruments to take centre stage, so much so the latter half of the track is so overwhelming, you could easily swap it for the last track, enabling the album to finish on such a confident and self-assured note. Because of this, the placement of this song is quite jarring since we are just getting started.
Many of their album tracks appear to be dependent on the use of guitar and drums, echoing the likes of their 2011 album A Different Kind of Fix, veering away from So Long, See You Tomorrow which heavily used electronically influenced sounds to comprise their songs. In particular, the title track ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’ uses an authoritative bass guitar which reverberates throughout the track and is coupled with immensely controlled yet fast paced vocals which creates an interesting dynamic as the track continues to intensify in its layering’s of sounds. The low, almost speech-like vocals of lead vocalist Jack Steadman, juxtaposed to the somewhat chaotic picture painted by the lyrics of being unable to articulate how they really feel is essential, and portrays the inner chaos of mind succinctly. ‘I guess I found my peace again / And yes I found my second win’ is repeated numerous times, focusing on breaking through that mental block.
Similar mental obstacles are present in the fourth track, ‘I Can Hardly Speak’ which as the title infers, expresses the troubles in not being able to vocalise yourself. Though it is masked by a vibrant and punchy sound, this track finishes on a much more isolated note, the speaker coming back to the comfort of their own home and expelling all the words they wanted to say through writing them: ‘I come home to write it all (For me).’ The same is applicable for ‘I Worry Bout You’, which again is pretty transparent from its title. An amalgamation of repeated tambourine shakes and frenzied drum beats are paired with anguish and lyrics of worry “When it’s the third time I’m calling, / I worry bout you” which once again, like many of the tracks seem to reverse the expectations of a somewhat distress-riddled song into something which appears upbeat and cheery.
Perhaps one of the most stand out songs on the album in my opinion is ‘Racing Stripes’, which brings the record to a quiet ending. This one is very unique musically in comparison to their other tracks and quite frankly is a breath of fresh air. The minimalism and reduction of exuberant drum beats and guitar strums is really what makes it so special as we are spending the majority of the track marvelling at Steadman’s calm and collected voice which seems to employ a lot more range vocally (some of the other tracks I seldom felt had this), making the song feel very airy and open, rather than the vocals being trapped in by the hectic excitement of the instruments. The repetition of ‘This light will keep me going’ throughout the track boasts a hopefulness which many of the previous tracks had been lacking and the inclusion of female vocals from British folk artist Billie Marten towards the end of the track enhances its truly angelic and peaceful nature.
If you’ve been a Bombay Bicycle Club listener for years, or even a day, there should be no reason why this album wouldn’t have anything to offer you. It is pulsating musically, offering something entirely unique and distinctive and quite frankly nothing like I have come across in a while.
Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is available now via Mmm…Records