Friday, 2 September 2011

Bombay Bicycle Club - A Different Kind Of Fix, Track by Track Review


In the wake of a magnificent summer wowing many a festival crowd, Bombay Bicycle Club have reached that difficult third album. The time to prove their mission statement, the opportunity to solidify their intentions and establish their staying power. After two very diverse albums, you can't blame those who are wondering just what they are all about. Are they indie dancefloor destroyers, or mournful folk poster boys? Luckily for us, A Different Kind Of Fix proves that they are both in equal, elegant measure.


How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep 
Known by serious BBC fans as the one that was included in it's previous guise on the soundtrack to Hollywood blockbuster Twilight:Eclipse, the revolving lyrical theme ('Can I wake you up, is it late enough') appears to have some shape shifting vampire magic of its own,travelling through various rooms of sound... the acoustic intro, the RnB overdub, the expansive skyline stealer, the beatbox... A fantastic opener to an album which under the ever talented tutelage of Jack Steadman, could go in any thrilling direction. Ebbing and flowing back to it's original opening, this track is more fixating than R Patz could ever be. Sorry Bella.


Bad Timing
Edgy guitars and heavy use of surf pedal effects create a sense of insistent unease, Jack desperately pleading 'Why do you keep me back/With all your powers I am pushing at?', before reaching a fabulous unsettled chord. A good example early on of what to expect from phase three of Bombay Bicycle Club: a building, anxious, layered beast that transcends into furious head shaking and tapping feet.


Your Eyes
One for fans of I Had The Blues... due to it's perky, driving beat, the chorus and verse of Your Eyes each appear to have been crafted separately but yet fit perfectly, a patchwork blanket of crashing cymbals, riffs nicked off the Mystery Jets and even the odd cheeky cowbell. It marks the first of many tracks where the vocal line manages to stay boldly afloat upon some very strong guitar, to great affect. A definite hand claps in the air moment at around the 3:30 mark will be near on compulsory at forthcoming festival appearances, as the track builds to it's blaze of glory finale.


Lights Out, Words Gone
Put simply, this is one of the best 4 minutes Bombay Bicycle Club have ever commited to tape. With Jack on typical poetic form (Keep your old and wasted words/My heart is breaking like you heard), the blend between his own vocal lines and the tentative trill of guest singer Lucy Rose weaves around a ludicrously funky baseline, making for an upbeat, blissed out listen. Steel pans and a brass section that Friendly Fires would be proud of finish off the already very strong look.


Take The Right One
Clearly influenced by 90s shoecase, if Take The Right One were anymore relaxed, it wouldn't turn up for rehearsals. Awash with reverb, it suffers only having to follow four such strong tracks. Still, some impressive percussion and guitar work from Suren de Saram and Ed Nash respectively does the trick, and by the end of the track it's near impossible not to hum along to that riff.


Shuffle
The pure definition of a summer anthem, Shuffle's off kilter piano intro (an old Jazz sample don'tcha know), endearingly dodgy scat and 'say you mean it, seal it up' refrain has proved to be an instant festival hit. Bouncy and bold, it marks a subtle but significant move into a fuller territory for BBC, and is probably the closest they'll ever get again to hit single Always Like This in terms of instant memorability.

Beggars 
The only survivor from the Flaws era, Beggars benefits significantly from the uplift in tempo at the chorus, marking a different dynamic to what we've seen from them before acoustically, but still retaining the beautiful sense of intimacy that gained them such mainstream plaudits.

Leave It
An obvious highlight boasting the most full formed chorus on the album, the Cajun dance partyesque guitars in the last minute of Leave It could only have been made by love addled, summer struck teenagers; carefree, naive and utterly irresistible. A gorgeous homage to the bands beginnings, and a reassuring gesture for all the fans who've been there since the beginning with its soaring melodies and emotive imagery.

Fracture
Still in plaintive dreamy mode, Steadman's voice flourishes over a simple beat, drenching the melody with the trademark vibrato that belies his years. Evocative of sunsets and landscapes, this will be a perfect interlude for the late afternoon mainstage sets they'll almost certainly be playing in the near future.

What You Want
Opening with an ominous call to 'your flesh and bone', the up-and-down-stairs guitar, the shimmering synths... What You Want has all the hallmarks of an indie dancefloor slow burner. With Jack promising 'you can reaarange me now/ if you wait we can make it somehow/ anything you want', this is Bombay in ghostly gear, only aided by Lucy's spooky backing vocals and the glorious outro.

Favourite Day
Favourite Day is strongly remiscent of Jack's Trip-hop infused side project, with Arcade Fire 'No Cars Go' undertones. The triumphant middle eight seems to epitomise months on the road, staring out of a van window... months of waiting to make it to this point.As we grow ever nearer to the closer, this seems as good a track as any to boast a certain sense of proud accomplishment.

Still
Nothing short of stuff of dreams for Radiohead fans, 'Still'  holds the sort of comfort and power akin only to falling into a deep and well needed sleep. The delicate lullaby tones tread lightly over Steadmans shy but sure piano, embodying the unassuming talent that lies at his core and holds the band so tightly together. An unexpected pleasure of a closer that puts a heavy question mark over the nature of their next move.

Verdict:
A Different Kind Of Fix indeed, but more of a development than a radical departure. As expected, the Steadman sideproject has crept in here and there, as have several other musical genres, but they have informed rather than overpowered, and Lucy Rose's guest vocals are quietly suggestive rather than saccharine sweet. Beguiling and wide eyed, this is a coming of age story for a band who appear finally to be taking charge of their destiny and appreciating the position they are now in: one of the biggest and most proficient young guitar bands in Britain, who have just made one of the albums of the year.

9/10


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