Bombay Bicycle Club seem to operate in their own sphere. Four albums in and the London four-piece are yet to reach true mainstream success, but, undeterred, they continue to press on. It's testament to Island Records' confidence in the band that they've been allowed to write, record and produce 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' themselves over the past eighteen months, despite previously underwhelming sales. Perhaps this is the album that can bring this under-appreciated band the success they deserve?
Following their guitar-focused previous albums, 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' is a more electronic effort, with the use of loops, techno beats and splashes of synths. Lead single Carry Me is the closest the band have come to a dance track, all lurching syncopated rhythms, punchy brass and that soaring, euphoric middle eight. It's quite possibly the best track they've produced. The electronics continue in the processed beats and twinkling synths of Whenever, Wherever (sadly not a cover of the Shakira classic), whilst Come To shimmers with its funk keys.
It's not all electronic though. Frontman Jack Steadman travelled the world whilst writing the album, moving from Europe to Japan, India and Turkey. The eclectic influences work their way into each track: orchestral opening Overdone slowly blooms like a sunrise; high brass flutters in It's Alright Now; current single Luna bristles with hypnotic marimba; and Feel has the most explicit Middle Eastern flavour with its snakelike melodies. It certainly makes for a diverse experience.
Yet it's all instantly recognisable as the work of Bombay Bicycle Club. In part this is due to the unique vocals of Steadman, but also he's streamlined the band's sound into a sleek, compact ten track package. That said, the slower songs don't quite have the impact of the funkier, upbeat tracks - Eyes Off You is clearly a more personal track (the production placing Steadman's voice at the forefront of the sound, each lick of his tongue right in your ear), but it's very much a slow-burner.
On the flipside, this album falls into the same pitfalls as their previous albums. 'Flaws' had Ivy & Gold, 'A Different Kind Of Fix' had Shuffle (a personal favourite), and 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' has Carry Me - each album comprising a clear standout track amongst merely good work. This latest album, however, is a more accomplished, confident and varied body of work. If this doesn't propel them into the limelight, then who knows what will.
* Carry Me
Listen: 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' is available now.