Words can’t express quite how excited I was for the release of Bombay Bicycle Club’s fourth album. Up until this point, each of their previous records had been wonderfully unique, yet had still possessed that signature Bombay sound and Jack Steadman’s recognisable vocal. One thing that Bombay Bicycle Club do flawlessly is their production, especially on predecessor A Different Kind Of Fix; I was particularly looking forward to this aspect of the album alongside the band’s newer influences. Yet what struck me upon first listen of this album was that this time, Bombay Bicycle Club had not strived for reinvention. Rather, the sound remained reminiscent of their third effort, and the one major change was the addition of international influences – no doubt picked up from Steadman’s travels.
So Long, See You Tomorrow opens with a looping build of high-pitched strings, soon accompanied by a complementary synth; the two combine to create a Bollywood-like sound. Steadman revealed prior to the album’s release that he had gained large amounts of inspiration from a recent trip to India; this is definitely noticeable in opener, Overdone. A female vocalist takes the lead on the chorus, accompanied by Jack’s harmonies, and the track goes in a delightfully interesting direction as heavy guitar, wistful vocal, and that Bollywood-esque riff loop throughout. A promising start.
Second track, It’s Alright Now, had been up on Soundcloud for a few months prior to the album’s release. I couldn’t help but find the opening chorus of “It’s alright now, I don’t wanna wait” ever so slightly annoying as it repeatedly looped over honking synths. A real shame, as I enjoyed the laidback verses, rolling drumbeats, and bridge that Steadman sings in falsetto. Yet aside from the addition of brass in the final chorus, the track didn’t really go anywhere for me. In fact, I found it rather repetitive. This was followed by Carry Me, the lead single which has been circulating for a while now. This track goes the furthest in attempting to progress Bombay’s sound from A Different Kind Of Fix, with Steadman clearly focusing on looping and chopped vocals. Yet again, I can’t help but feel that the track is too repetitive. Lyricism definitely wasn’t a focus when making this record.
Home By Now is very inoffensive, lacking the lure of Bombay’s former tracks. I do like the chords in the background though, reminiscent almost of 90s RnB. The song does get better throughout, and the crescendo in the last chorus is nice. Whenever, Wherever is not a Shakira cover, but rather a slightly heartwarming, warbling ballad. The track is akin to previous single, How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep?, yet the whole thing had a tendency to wash over me this time. It’s outro blends into Luna with ease, a song inspired by synchronised swimming; this sounds absurd, but isn’t hard to understand as the backing instruments recreate the sound of a brightly shimmering swimming pool. An oddly specific description, but one that I think is apt.
Eyes Off You is another inoffensive ballad; perhaps it will stand out more after a few more plays. But Feel really stands out – you wouldn’t be surprised to hear this one playing on the streets of Delhi. Somehow the truly eclectic combinaton of offbeat percussion, bhangra, reggae instrumentation and brass section work and this happens to (oddly) be one of the stand out tracks of the album. Next up is my favourite track, Come To. This one sounds like the band did a collaboration with M83 and it’s great. If Bombay move in any kind of direction in the future, I’d want it to be this one. The album finishes far stronger than it started with titular track So Long, See You Tomorrow. This one could have been a bonus track on A Different Kind Of Fix. However, it’s slightly ruined by the introduction of an odd instrumental at the halfway point. A shame, as the song would have been perfect if only it had finished a few minutes early.
Maybe the whole album will grow on me upon further listening – I’ll admit this happened with their previous releases. Yet I can’t help but think that this album is a slightly less mature version of A Different Kind Of Fix. Still considerably stronger and far more listenable than the majority of music out there in the war-zone that is contemporary chart music, the album is only weak within Bombay’s own body of work. As a self-confessed fan whose loyalty is still unwavering I would urge everyone to listen to the album and formulate their own opinions; yet I can’t help but feel the slightest bit disappointed.