Bombay Bicycle Club, the band of many a sound, an eclectic force, much loved by indie enthusiasts and a genre splitting band. The experimental outfit consisting of Jack Steadman (lead vocals, guitar and piano), Jamie MacColl (guitar), Suren de Saram (drums), and Ed Nash (bass) are back with their exciting new album ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong.‘ It’s a “mashup of different sounds,” as drummer Saram stated. This is a relaunch for Bombay Bicycle Club after they announced they were taking a hiatus in 2015. As with many musical hiatuses, this wasn’t to be a very long one, an immense relief to those fans who hold the band with high esteem.
‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong‘ is the band’s fifth studio album and it encapsulates a taste of everything from each of their previous records. The album immediately comes across as energetic with the opening brass lines of ‘Get Up.‘ This joyful sound continues throughout on various tracks such as, my personal favourite, ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You),‘ the band’s comeback single. Ed Nash’s pumping gritty bass drives the sound; the track sounds most similar to their first album. The song really shines light on the pop element of the entire album with its radio friendly appeal. The lyrics, “First notes start, I can see where you are/Dream where you are/Will the song never end?” immediately reminds me of the lust driven teenage angst songs of their first album. Steadman’s trembling vocals continue with, “I may not say it outwardly, so all I have are memories.” It’s as if to say the band has been craving an end to their hiatus along with their fans.
Steadman’s vocals are unique as always, like an apologetic whisper to his listeners. The vocals, with their entwining echo laden harmonies through songs like the title track, ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong,’ give a sense of a retro feel. The melody is catchy enough to singalong with after one or two listens and reminds us of why Bombay Bicycle Club are so loved by music fans after so many years. Even with experimental, shape shifting sounds, they still manage to produce songs that can be sung by thousands of festival goers on a sunny afternoon, as I’m sure we will see this summer. The title refers to something that sounds eerily serious. Fans may be forgiven in thinking the album is downcast, and pessimistic on the world’s current climate. When the album was announced, the band even stated it would consist of, “music in a time of crisis,” and “finding kernels of hope and renewal in dire situations.” The repeated lines of, “I guess I found my peace again and yes I found my second wind and yes I found some hope again,” that finish the title track could easily sum up the whole album’s theme of hope and renewal.
The entire album can be pictured as an outlook on global issues, political issues or even the band’s own personal feelings like Steadman’s lyrics, “First my looks and now my friends, Day-by-day, I’m losing them” in the song ‘Good Day.’ He quickly moves from “melting ice caps in my drink,” to dwell on his ageing and loss of friends. Like the band itself, the lyrics are a maturing sign of individuals who aren’t the school boys they were when they first burst on to the music scene twelve years ago. As with every Bombay Bicycle Club album, their closing track, and their third single release, ‘Racing Stripes,’ perfectly sums up the album. With a Celtic air, Steadman’s vulnerable whispering tones shine through, a personal tone in a melancholic sound. The line, “This light will keep me going”, during the chorus doesn’t only epitomize the single, I believe it’s a light to guide the band on their forthcoming journey. His pitch seems pushed to its peak, as if he is about to break with pure raw emotion, something that is evident throughout the eleven songs.
Themes of nostalgia in ‘Is It Real,’ introverted, almost obsessive love in ‘Let You Go,’ and a feeling of being lost on “roads abandoned,” this album delivers so many possibilities that Bombay Bicycle Club have always offered. It shows advancement since their early indie rock days and a crossover of what each member has been doing musically during their four or so year hiatus. It is not what you would have expected which is exactly what you should expect from Bombay Bicycle Club. The album expresses a creativity that has been found during those years. ‘Everything Else has Gone Wrong’ is a strong relaunch. It is perfect for the age we live in, unsure of what the future holds or even what the present is grasping. As with the band’s sound, maybe they don’t know where their music is taking them, but we can be sure, when everything else is going wrong, we’ll always have Bombay Bicycle Club to put things right.