This might be the longest time Bombay Bicycle Club have ever taken between albums, but they certainly haven’t been sitting on their arses in the interim. ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ was inspired by frontman Jack Steadman’s travels, and is jam packed full of fresh perspectives and globetrotting experimentalism. So much so that, on a First Listen, it’s all actually a little overwhelming – there’s a lot to take in. Melodies are unconventional, sounds are plucked from across the map like Jack’s gone musical InterRailing, and effects spring up where you least expect them. It’s bloody gorgeous, but, like the best things in life, takes a bit of work: a grower not a shower, if you will.
We begin album number four with Hovis ad swells and a very British, pastoral sound, like something your gran or local reverend might have been playing if you’d nipped over for tea in 1951. This is quickly dismissed in favour of soaring, Eastern strings and a Bollywood sample. We’re not in Crouch End anymore. Jack’s distinctive, reedy vocal – and we don’t mean in a bad way – adds further texture to this sweet sonic onslaught. ‘Overdone’ is five songs for the price of one, which, as we listen on, seems to be something of a theme.
It’s Alright Now
You’ve heard this one before. The second track on the LP was also the second track to be previewed from the record, let loose in December of last year as an early Xmas offering to fans. Slyly funky bass underpins chugging, stop-start swirls and chiming synths, feeding into what sounds like a veerry long day in the studio, with Jack yelling ‘more of this, no, less of that’ etc. It’s pop music, but wrapped up in a Rizla, the sticky side licked good and proper by Foals and served up with a generous glass of psychotropic Raki.
Another one we’ve all heard. This was the first cut from ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ to be unleashed following 2011’s ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’. Almost aggressive beats are set off by Jack’s floaty falsetto, but he pulls in a blokey baritone in the breakdown too. Electro squelches sit surprisingly comfortably in the world music setting, like someone setting an EDM tent up at WOMAD and it bringing in ten times as many people as the Tuvan throat singing stage. “If anybody wants to know/Our love’s getting old/Lighting the cracks in the road,” moons Jack. Which is either utterly beautiful, or fucking miserable – we haven’t decided yet.
Home By Now
If Aaliyah started singing in the first eight seconds of ‘Home By Now’, it wouldn’t be too much of a shock – aside from the fact that she’d have risen from the grave, which would probably merit a small gasp. The closest Bombay Bicycle Club have ever got to an R&B slow jam, it boasts the most conventional melody on the record and the studio trickery is kept on a slow simmer. One for cheerful snogging, basically.
Not be confused with Shakira’s 2001 breakthrough single, notable for drawing the world’s attention towards her small and humble bosom. For better or worse, at no point in this song does Jack mention his tits. When it begins you think you’re all set for a moody little piano ballad, but the sad keys tinkle into a massive Disney movie style shimmer and the mood flips – Jack is joyful! Jack is perky! Someone’s obviously given him a damn good cuddle. It sounds like they let go of their snuggly grip for the last minute, which is bad new for Jack, but good news for fans for a pensive fade-out.
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Otherwise known as ‘the banger’, it’s another tune they’ve released as a single and features guest vocals from Rae Morris, who’s the new Amber Wilson, who was the new Lucy Rose. Come on, catch up. Rae will also be supporting the band on their March tour of the UK. But back to the tune: towering melody lines, swan-diving guitars and a healthy dose of spangly magic. Huge.
Eyes Off You
From such great heights to something really rather fragile. Most of ‘Eyes Off You’ is stripped of the studio witchcraft that’s been happening on the rest of the record. Stately piano and that quavering falsetto of Jack’s are the stars here. “I can’t take my eyes off you” he croons in this semi-duet, with, we assume, Rae Morris again, who is husky and mysterious where he’s cut glass and delicate. There’s also something of the West End showtune about it, especially when the skiffling drums build up into a no-prisoners emotional pile-on.
Alongside ‘Overdone’ and the track straight after this, ‘Come To’, ‘Feel’ was started when Jack’s travels took him to India. Bolstered by a blatant Bollywood groove, it’s the Rajasthan International Folk Festival by way of the Barfly, a hustling, bustling stomp that runs deeper than simple sonic tourism. The fact that you can most certainly dance to it is an added bonus.
This might be the most straight-up, fuss-free song on the album. A little bit shoegazey, with a smidgen of the Slowdives and a mean-ass drum roll, ‘Come To’ is all about creating a mood, the mood being ‘Five Leaves Left’-era Nick Drake on a tropical holiday. Picture the silken haired singer-songwriter at a beach party, brandishing a cocktail in a coconut, taking in the vibes whilst wearing a Hawaiian shift and maybe puffing on a little local homegrown. That’s ‘Come To’, that is.
So Long, See You Tomorrow
Opening up like a low-key Berber folk rendering of the Tetris theme tune, Bombay Bicycle Club finish in hypnotic mode. Vocals ooze into the wafty and elegant mix, which throbs away contentedly until, four and half minutes in there’s a surprise disco breakdown. Suddenly it’s all Studio 54 mirrorballs and rock star girlfriends riding white horses onto the dancefloor, before an acid house outro that sees you tumbling back to your bedroom at 8am, convinced you’ve found a better way of doing things. And maybe you have.