Bombay Bicycle Club have never been the band to label as predictable so you can’t be surprised when listening to their 4th album So Long, See You Tomorrow. It’s been the longest wait we’ve had for an album from the London 4-piece but 2 years dedicated to travelling the likes of India, Turkey, Japan and Holland weren’t wasted as it sparked influence for frontman Jack Steadman to give us something no-one was expecting. Forget the guitar orientated indie-rock, the time they unplugged their instruments and then the introduction of Steadman’s ventureinto electronics. Instead just focus on the dance-inducing pop songs that have taken precedence on the new record.
Opener ‘Overdone’ has gone far from the electronic beats we became accustomed to hearing and has got even more unconventional – if that’s possible. Instead we’ve been given Bollywood with hint of Oriental thrown in. Say goodbye to those guitar dominated tracks and hello to synth-filled and keyboard driven tracks. Up next is the already known ‘It’s Alright Now’ followed by the equally as known and loved ‘Carry Me’. Both tracks flaunt their love of samples which have been wanting to make an appearance since Steadman made music in his bedroom in the pre-Bombay days; the sample featured in ‘Carry Me’ is even taken from Jack’s very own ‘Travelling Song’.
Moving onto ‘Home By Now’ is when you get confused. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes as slowed down R&B takes over for this track; not everyone can pull it off. They’ve have partly made it work but you can’t get away from the fact it sounds like it could be featured on NOW That’s What I Call Music! 87. ‘Whenever, Wherever’ isn’t a cover of Shakira’s hit (how good would that be though) but instead an upbeat, steady paced pop song. The heavy use of electronic drums won’t go unnoticed though; you can’t help but question where Suren de Saram went for this track. But taking all the limelight is ‘Luna’. Accompanied by Rae Morris, ‘Luna’ is packed full of an extensive percussion section – just check out that marimba – and beautiful vocals. Why was Morris only just asked to do backing vocals now?
Back into the unknown tracks now with ‘Eyes Off You’ which completely contradicts the previous pop song and reminisces back to ‘Still’ off the last album. Is that Lucy Rose we can hear too? This piano ballad is so unexpected with the pop nature of the rest of the record but you can’t fault something as beautiful as this; get the tissues ready. Back with the R&B beats is ‘Feel’ which you can see the influence from Jack’s Indian travels with the return of Bollywood we first saw in ‘Overdone’ but with the small addition of some salsa.
Think of old Bombay but with broken up backing and a slowed down tempo to keep it distanced and sounding fresh; that’s what you get in ‘Come To’. Closing it all off is title track ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ and it looks like they’ve persisted all the way though with the new experimental sound they’ve discovered. They’ve kept it low-key up until the 4 minute mark when everything changes. The increasing rhythm signals the start of the end; the same tender, falsetto vocals continue but are contrasted with the introduction of what sound like the backing to a game of Tetris.
While So Long, See You Tomorrow has changed direction completely from the last 3 records to be more audacious and risky, Bombay Bicycle Club have still kept the development of their sound constant. The guitars are still there, as are the gentle tones of their acoustic side and we can still see their electronic influence. It’s all been mixed together to make something seem so one of a kind yet so universally lovable with its pop and dance hits. No other band could pull this off.