Music Reviews

Bombay Bicycle Club Skid on Pleasant but Unremarkable EVERYTHING ELSE HAS GONE WRONG

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Genre: Indie Pop, Indie Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Good Day,” “Eat Sleep Wake (Nothing But You),” “Let You Go”

We are about ankle-deep into 2020, and the music world has already witnessed several instances that will encourage us to take band’s announcements of hiatuses and retirements with a big grain of rock salt. My Chemical Romance lasted about six years before coming back to milk the reunion cash cow, Mötley Crüe is back (why, God) after two-and-a-half years, and John Frusciante is a Chili Pepper again. British indie rockers Bombay Bicycle Club lasted roughly three-and-a-half years, as things were looking pretty serious for a second, apparently selling off all their musical equipment after pursuing some short lived solo projects. The group have returned to release their first full-length LP since 2014’s fantastic SO LONG, SEE YOU TOMORROW. After toying around with the idea of reconvening to celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band, Jack Steadman and company decided it just didn’t feel right getting back together without at least trying to make some new music, and the result of said experiment is EVERYTHING ELSE HAS GONE WRONG.

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Sonically, the group’s latest pretty much picks up where the band left off in 2014. Rather than expanding upon the electronic-soaked indie rock sound the group had tapped into rather successfully for SO LONG, SEE YOU TOMORROW, it keeps things consistent. It seemed strange the band decided to throw in the towel at the height of their popularity, and therefore less strange they ended up exploring similar sounds when they joined back up with each other. By and large, EVERYTHING ELSE HAS GONE WRONG feels more mid-tempo and reserved, missing the little bursts of energy that were previously more frequent. Album opener “Get Up” is a short, slow burner built around floaty synths that ends abruptly, giving way to the pulsing drums and rolling, bass-driven rhythm of “Is It Real.” Quickly it becomes clear that they’re simply filling some of the gaps of their music with horns and new synth tones. The album’s title track is an infectiously catchy take on the tried and true trope of “It all seems fucked so let’s dance,” but reads on a more personal level for the band, Steadman’s claim that “I found my second wind” during the bridge sounding like it could be referring to the band finding their drive to create music together again.

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The highlights of the album come in “Good Day” and lead single “Eat Sleep Wake (Nothing But You).” The former is the sole solo writing credit from bassist Ed Nash, and finds him channeling Morrissey levels of confused defeatist romanticism (“If I had a job / I would quit my job”) until he tacks on the critical element of self-awareness (“I just want to have a good day / And it’s only me standing in my way”) that accepts that most dissatisfaction stems from within, while the latter is sure to become a crowd favorite sing-along on the band’s upcoming tours. Every instrument on the track, including Steadman’s dreamy, affected vocals brings their melodic A-game.

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“Let You Go,” however, remains the album’s most unique track, forgoing the traditional song structures utilized on the rest of the record for something a little more layered and progressive. It builds from a sparse beat into an emotional swirl of synth and Steadman’s pleading vocals. “Racing Stripes,” the album closer, attempts to follow a similar path of dramatic escalation, but plateaus much sooner, closing out the album in a somewhat stalled, but steady fashion. EVERYTHING ELSE HAS GONE WRONG is by no means an Earth-shattering progression for the group, but a continuation of where they left off as they attempt to figure out if there is indeed a future for Bombay Bicycle Club.

Jake Mazon
Jake Mazon is the host of The Final Sound radio program on VPN, as well as a co-host on THE REAL ROCKER THEATER and WHAT'S YOUR RECORD? podcasts. There's a really good chance that he's already read the new article about what offensive thing Morrissey said this week, so please stop sending him the links.

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