May 23, 2016
Released On February 3, 2014
Released By Island Records
I found it difficult to select my record for this week’s Off Your Radar. I had a number of great albums to choose from, some of them in my top five of all time, but ultimately, I veered off course slightly and went for my favourite record of 2014.
Bombay Bicycle Club were never been a band I particularly had much affection for. If there’s one thing the UK has in abundance, it’s great indie bands and they seemed like just another UK indie band. They were talented for sure, but they never stood out for me. I loved their first single “Always Like This,” but five years and three albums passed me by without them ever really grabbing my attention.
So Long, See You Tomorrow changed all that.
After going back and listening to their first three albums, you can see an evolution in Bombay Bicycle Club’s music. The first album, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, is a straight indie record; their second record Flaws, was entirely acoustic; and their third, A Different Kind Of Fix, sounds like Amnesiac-era Radiohead. Bombay Bicycle Club just don’t seem intent on sticking to a genre.
So Long, See You Tomorrow is a further evolution. Written during lead singer Jack Steadman’s travels through India, Japan, and the Netherlands, Steadman was inspired by his new surroundings and the different types of music he encountered.
I remember hearing “Feel” (my favourite track on the record) for the first time at work and just stopping what I was doing to listen — I instantly fell in love with the song the second I heard the Bollywood sample kick in. A few days later, I heard “Luna” for the first time and fell in love with that track too. Each track on the record I enjoy for different reasons and each one offers something completely different.
It’s a really tightly produced album, with singers Rae Morris and Lucy Rose offering excellent accompaniment to Steadman’s vocals on a number of tracks. At ten tracks, it has no filler and the quality never drops once. Compared to their previous works, So Long, See You Tomorrow is a much more upbeat and uplifting record and I think that’s what ultimately drew me in on a personal level.
I feel like I owe Bombay Bicycle Club an apology. I spent so many years with them on my periphery, with the assumption they were just another decent indie quartet. Instead, I was missing out on one of the most interesting and unique bands the UK has to offer. Their evolution through the years has culminated with So Long, See You Tomorrow, which I can comfortably say is one of the best British records in the past five years. I chose this record for OYR because I feel the record has something for everyone. It’s an album with so much depth to it that each new listen will bring something new.
James Peart (@choccyr)
Fascinated Binger Of Musical Zeitgeist
Interesting that it would take a band named after an Indian chain restaurant until their fourth record to incorporate world music.
So Long, See You Tomorrow is a great big moments album. Bombay Bicycle Club are so good at pulling together every available element — sequenced drums, synths, guitars, polyrhythms, inspiration from a variety of musical traditions — to make your heart warm and brain happy. “It’s Alright Now” feels amazing — the world seems so big and inspiring when you listen. And the interplay between the strings and the beat in the chorus of “Feel” is a rhythmic gift that gives more each time I hear it. These generous, uplifting moments are everywhere on So Long, but I keep finding myself drawn back to “Eyes Off You.” It reminds me of the Postal Service lyric, “I know that it’s not a party if it happens every night.” The highs are only highs if there are attendant lows, and BBC gives us a powerful, mournful low point just before the positive energy of “Feel.” The narrator in “Eyes Off You” sounds stuck — “sad” and “eyes” are repeated until they’re more sounds than words — and the piano, especially early on, drills the deepest depths of the album’s dynamic range. We live in a time when it’s easier than ever to get people’s serotonin pumping with this drop or that electronically assisted arpeggio, but not every group works both with and against that impulse. That balance makes this big moments album even bigger.
I admit it, I haven’t kept up too well with the indie world since the dawning of the new millennium. Artists cross my radar, but only on a catch-as-catch-can basis, with the true Pitchfork hype darlings being the only one you can be sure I’ll have heard of. Therefore I didn’t know anything about Bombay Bicycle Club until this album showed up in my list of upcoming Off Your Radar assignments. There are a variety of reasons why I’m not really keeping an eye out for indie stuff anymore, and why I was disappointed with the state of the genre frequently enough to eventually just kind of tune it out. A specific list would take up way too much space at this juncture, but the important thing is that none of those things apply to Bombay Bicycle Club. So Long, See You Tomorrow doesn’t really have any strong connection to punk rock, but in this case that doesn’t bug me at all — mainly because their cinematic, technicolor psychedelia is so appealing to me. Particular songs don’t really stand out on my first few listens, but that’s only because this is such an overwhelming musical experience. Listening to it really loud through headphones really brought home to me just how much care and attention to detail was put into making this album an entire sonic environment. The results are very appealing, and pretty much every song is a delight. This album reminds me of a couple of other longtime favorites (which I won’t name because at least one of them is in queue for a future edition of this newsletter) in that I both love it and would have a very hard time picking just one song for a mixtape, but the solution here is obvious — just listen to the whole thing. Let it wash over you.
So Long, See You Tomorrow sort of sounds like The Go! Team if they were making out with Coldplay. Before the beat and quirky keyboards kick in on my favorite track, the harmonies and slow calming sounds are reminiscent of The Besnard Lakes and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve probably heard a Bombay Bicycle Club song or two before OYR, but nothing has caught my ear and so I needed to go back to see what else they have done. For a rock band that has an album with distorted guitars, a folk record, and everything in between, this album is a huge jump with A Different Kind Of Fix being the bridge into new territory. I hope they continue to evolve and never repeat themselves.
Wow! I did not see this one coming. I’ve never heard of Bombay Bicycle Club, but after listening to So Long, See You Tomorrow, I’ll be hunting down the rest of their discography expeditiously. There are two aspects to this album that make it nothing short of brilliant. First, the production is damn near flawless. The seamless interplay between samples and live instrumentation is no easy feat, but BBC pull it off on every single song. For all I know, BBC sample themselves playing live instruments (a la Portishead), which wouldn’t surprise me at all. Moreover, they do a great job of allocating equal time to programmed drums vs. live drums. The best example being “Whenever, Wherever” – opening as a ballad; transitions to an up-tempo dance track; in the last third of the song they “give the drummer some.” The second component of why this album is so awesome? BBC’s incredible range. I love the hurky-jerky opening of “Carry Me” where they tease us with an off-kilter time signature only to reveal a funky 4/4 rhythm when the chorus takes over. This is the album’s “a-ha” moment. The Middle Eastern influence of “Feel” is the album’s big WTF moment (in the best way possible). Does anyone else hear Puff Daddy ripping off “Luna” for a late ’90s floss-fest just like he did for David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance?” This album is full of moments. Moments that you don’t want to end. Luckily, we’ll see them again tomorrow.
As creative and culturally diverse as the music itself.
No allegiance. That’s one of the lessons I internalized from Yeah Yeah Yeah, Bob Stanley’s brilliant book about pop music. No allegiance to genre, or to a band’s past career, no care for albums — only songs matter, and how they make you feel in the moment. So when listening to Bombay Bicycle Club for OYR, I put aside everything I knew, read, or wondered about them and just listened. While not everything on So Long, See You Tomorrow struck home in the end, there’s three or four songs that are just killer — ambitious, risky, overwhelming stuff. Take the opening cut, appropriately titled “Overdone.” It starts off like an Ennio Morrcone theme, all strings and horns, before the Madchester drums kick in. After about a minute, the vocals float in as if the singer is just moseying along in this jungle of sound. There are trilling violins, fuzzed out guitars and soon the vocals begin to soar, taking you off the very earth. There’s a nasty little guitar break and the drums start to really slam, taking the song home. Then, half off the cliff, it just ends, leaving you suspended in midair. It’s a symphony in a song. “Feel” is also a standout, spinning gold out of hints of Bhangra and Algerian Rai music. I’m guessing “fun” is not the easiest thing for these guys, but this song could rock a polyglot block. The album also ends strong with a double dose of ecstatic Stone Roses in “Strawberry Fields” psychedelia that takes you on a nice little head trip. When they burn brightest, BBC make a sound to behold and wouldn’t you rather have a record with highs this high than something offering foolish consistency?
Bombay Bicycle Club’s So Long, See You Tomorrow, is the perfect soundtrack. From the moment “Overdone” begins, I’m imagining the opening credits of a completely underrated independent film that involves the main character walking around the streets of a non-defined city setting the stage for a fun, quirky adventure. The fun doesn’t stop there. I can picture an entire movie being played out to this album — from the meeting of the love interest to the inevitable conflict to be faced to the resolution at the end credits. It’s upbeat and dancey but has a lot of depth to it. I will now make a film using So Long, See You Tomorrow as the soundtrack.
Each year the axis tilts and the mercury rises — it becomes time to shed the chilly winter skins and fill up the environs with something more exuberant and bright. Bombay Bicycle Club supply rays of warmth a plenty with an album that also segues comfortably into hazy summer dusks. So Long, See You Tomorrow is a glorious union of late-nineties big beat and chamber pop with lush harmony gardens and crashing crystal swells of drums. “Overdone” sets the tone properly with all the key components to this pop machine in place — snappy breaks and ambrosial looping phrases harkening to later-day Chemical Brothers, soaring vocal layers, and a properly gnarly fuzz-bass groove (in this instance even dueted by some fine Annie Clark style guitar at the conclusion). It’s a formula that yields fondness rather than monotony. Once boarding the joyous ride, it carries though up until we reach the piano ballad respite of “Eyes Off You.” And even then the song blossoms into shimmery curtains of sound, if only briefly. There’s a similar mining of new wave prettiness and dynamics as M83, however, if M83 is from the Nightosphere, than this album is a resident of the Candy Kingdom. This is a record with all the flavor but a glycemic index that lends to indulgent consumption. It’s time to taste this tasty, summery treat.
Might you have a moment of time to talk about our lord and saviors of world music sampling?
The band name Bombay Bicycle Club comes with all sorts of associations and connotations. Are they from Bombay? Is Bombay even a place anymore? (The answer to both questions is no by the way. They are from London and Bombay became Mumbai in 1995. And just so you’re prepared for OYR Trivia Night, they named themselves after a chain of Indian restaurants in Britain.) But the big question is, of course, what is going to greet my ears when I press play? The answer to that is a little less firm, which, in my mind, is a good thing. I love not knowing what is coming next and that was true for this whole album. There are some electronic elements in here which were particularly unexpected. It’s an album that bears repeated listenings. I know they have 4 albums and are not, in any way, particularly “up and coming,” but this band feels like they’re still just on the verge of blowing up. At the time of this writing, I’m particularly fond of “Home By Now” and not-a-Shakira-cover “Whenever, Wherever” which, in my limited experience of both bands, is the best Animal Collective song that Animal Collective never recorded.
Bombay Bicycle Club’s So Long, See You Tomorrow was an an album that I was legitimately excited about before its 2014 release. I had stumbled onto their bandwagon shortly after their previous record, A Different Kind Of Fix and I was elated that their fourth offering didn’t disappoint in any way. So much so that it dragged me all the way from the Isle of Wight in the south of England last summer to go see them play in Victoria Park, London. Enough hyperbole though, the album, as one would expect after that build up, really speaks for itself. Calling it an indie record would be a gross understatement as its only that at perhaps its most fundamental level. Each track is melodiously layered with broad brush strokes ranging from piano, strings, horn sections, and an inescapably catchy Bollywood-style that glistens throughout. The highlight of all this is the song “Luna” with guest vocals from singer-songwriter Rae Morris (someone who is well worth also checking out on her own). All the aforementioned high notes come together in a psychedelic haze here. One word describes this album in conclusion and that is hypnotic because its so easy to be lost in and a perfect soundtrack for lazy summer days.
Matt Green (@happymad1986)
Fiery Orator Of Nostalgia
The highs being what they are on this record, it actually leads my ear to different and significantly smaller moments that turn out to be impactful. It’s weird actually. Like my ear is cutting through this majestically dense music to pinpoint fleeting moments that actually prove the cockamamie theories bouncing around in my head. I hear the spastic four note electronic phase signifier on “Carry Me” and it just hammers home that this is a sampling record, spliced together from different reels much like a film itself. It directs me in a way the cigarette burns direct projectionists at crucial moments. So crucial was this moment for me that I half expected Tyler Durden to pop out, smack me, and scream, “Duh!” “Luna” is another of these crucial moments on the record, one I would classify as a smaller moment. Odd too considering it’s clearly their most accessible track on the record. It serves as an intermission for the record, a brief pop recess that gives your mind time to process all these contrasting melodies. It also serves as a reminder that Bombay Bicycle Club hasn’t completely abandoned these straight-forward pop songs, and actually its exoteric quality makes it seem much outstanding than it might actually be. To me, it’s as if the band is throwing down the proverbial gauntlet. It says, “We can integrate all these diverse strains into our music and make it sound impeccable, while still having a straight pop song and making it fit better than anything you fools are doing!” At least that’s how I take it. Again, that’s just my ear leading me to those smaller moments to make those bigger connections. On a record like this though, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
It won’t. Stop. Raining. The warm and trippy opening nights of “Overdone” are an absolute relief, cause I absolutely don’t think I could make it through a guy-and-guitar album after a couple weeks of this weather. Really digging the way the track skids at the end and crashes into the movie ready, “It’s Alright Now.” Andddd we’ve arrived: this loop on “Home By Now” is transcendent. The harmonies, that kick drum, those keys: this whole song is a cloud burster. The halfway mark kind of sneaked up on me, damn. This album is supremely breezy. When it clicks for me, it really clicks, and “Luna” has me in its thrall. This band completely nails it when they go for sweeping and bombastic. A quick wiki check says that all the women so prominently featured on the album are guest vocalists. I think the secret alchemy of the projects lies in the enchanting way that they blend with Jack’s. Oh wow, we’re really tripling down on the pop vibes with “Feel” — this is a legit dance jam. Adding this to my summer party playlists. God, those horns are killer. The title track is a nice, clean exit point to an album that truly pops whenever it deviates from the indie rock playbook. There are a lot of clever little details throughout the project that I kinda wanna dig into on repeat listens. Now, can I just get a bit of sunshine to go with them?
Beat Pyramid by These New Puritans
Chosen By PJ Sykes