With three albums already under their belt from 2009-2011, Bombay Bicycle Club’s fourth So Long, See You Tomorrow is a great representation of the band’s maturation and the direction they want to go.
Inspired by frontman Jack Steadman’s travels through India, Turkey, Tokyo, the Netherlands and the band’s own U.K., So Long is a mixed bag of sounds, blending everything from indie rock to electronica to shoegaze to Bollywood. With so many interesting things happening on the record, it’s no wonder it took 18 months to make.
Steadman produced the album in the band’s London studio, tabbing Mark Rankin (Queens of the Stone Age, AlunaGeorge) to help with recording and mixing duties and English singer/songwriter Lucy Rose to provide backing vocals.
So Long begins with the impressive “Overdone,” a slowly-building track with a sari-twirling sample that is brought together by a crunchy guitar riff and a soaring chorus. What was originally thought to be a sweet, almost pastoral song, turns into a gritty anthem for the concrete jungle. The cowbell doesn’t hurt, either.
Many fans had already heard the second and third tracks — “It’s Alright Now” and “Carry Me,” respectively — as they were a couple of the ones leaked early.
“It’s Alright Now” is driven by unrelenting taps on a snare drum and Steadman’s shoot-for-the-moon falsetto, while “Carry Me” is a different beast altogether. The single is an explosive banger that is as club-ready as anything Bombay Bicycle Club has done in the past.
The band also dips a toe into the R&B pool with “Home By Now,” which is a slow jam perfect for chilling out with a glass of wine and a loved one. “Eyes Off You,” however, is another type of slow jam, with a melancholy hanging over it that calls to mind lonely drops of rain hitting the window on a grey fall day.
“Luna” is another tune that they released as a single, and rightfully so. For some reason, this sounds like classic Bombay Bicycle Club, with staccato drumming, dive-bombing guitar work and the magic of hot newcomer Rae Morris’ voice adding to the sparkling chorus.
“Whenever, Wherever” (not to be mistaken with Shakira’s hit from a few years back) is all jangly guitar pop that builds into a crashing apex before Steadman’s croon fades the song steadily away.
As if things couldn’t get diverse enough, Bombay Bicycle Club goes all Animal Collective on us with the closing title track.
“So Long, See You Tomorrow” bleeps and blurps out of the gate, as video-game sounds entrance the listener with a lullaby for four and a half minutes. The last 90 seconds of the song roils into a house anthem, that one would blast at an early-morning warehouse party.
The takeaway from So Long, See You Tomorrow is that this is a band that won’t rest on conventional indie-pop songwriting tropes. Sometimes when artists get quite ambitious, the result is a mess of people simply trying to do too much.
That is definitely not the case here. It’s clear that Steadman’s voyages have influenced the sound of Bombay Bicycle Club, but not in an overwhelming manner.
Perhaps more songwriters should take a walkabout and follow Steadman’s trail.
For more information, visit Bombay Bicycle Club’s official website.