Like a magic trick transforming a bouquet of flowers into a bird, the mutation of British foursome Bombay Bicycle Club from an indie rock band into an outright synth pop group might seem just as abrupt. Listen to any track from 2011’s A Different Kind of Fix and then hop over to a song from their newly released album So Long, See You Tomorrow and presto!
For fans of candy-coated music, it’s also just as ooh and aah inspiring.
Bombay Bicycle Club—who got their first break by winning a Last Band Standing competition in 2006—have proven through four albums, that they are handcuffed to no genre; instead opting to give it a go with whatever is popular at the time. As is the trend right now, they’ve decided to follow in the footsteps of Passion Pit and Foster the People.
For the band’s first album I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose, they trudged through almost shoegaze-inspired ditty rock—expanding on the success of Arctic Monkeys—before emulating the folk pop of Freelance Whales on Flaws and then settling into the angst tinged rock of Tokyo Police Club on the aforementioned Fix.
The album is littered with secrets whispered in bed, Townes Van Zandt references, half-empty bottles of Jim Beam, and sounds like it should be echoing from ancient vinyl under a stiff layer of dust.
The sharp move to electro-pop on this album might prove to be a bitter pill for fans to swallow. But it shouldn’t be.
For starters, they’re only mostly transfixed on electro pop, making room for just enough of the old Bombay Bicycle Club to peek through; proving this album is just one more evolution rather than an abandoning of the past. Something fans should be used to by now.
The lead track “Overdone” begrudgingly truncates the synth party half way through offering an opportunity for driving guitar to bore into the song while organ keys wail in the background, almost off-tempo, creating a spectacularly charred moment. Paired with the tender piano ballad “Eyes Off You”—a frail love song—the two are transitional pieces sure to provide some relief.
And even though the rest of the album is filled with harmonies, dance rhythms, anthem choruses, walloping drums and grumbling bass lines, all contributing to spiraling stacks of creamy pop; addictiveness abounds no matter what work they’ve released in the past. Even the staunchest of critics should find it hard to deny the charm of softer breaks like the song “Home by Now”— which mounts a sugary assault with the help of wavy vocals from Lucy Rose—or the merengue tune “Feel;” which begs for an umbrella drink.
By shifting their stylistic focus once again, Bombay Bicycle Club actually maintain the two most critical elements to their past success. They remain a quirky, albeit populous band. Surely fans will recognize that and give this record a chance. If not, some newcomers likely will.