Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow

Bombay Bicycle Club utilizes exotic sampling and enchanting electronic reproduction to conjure an album creating new identity.

Additional Info

7.3

ALBUM: So Long, See You Tomorrow

ARTIST: Bombay Bicycle Club

2014

Alternative

Swimming through genres from dark alternative to acoustic to laidback indie and finally diving into a combination of indie and dance music on their fourth album So Long, See You Tomorrow, Bombay Bicycle Club has traveled all over the musical spectrum. It can be stressful picking a genre or signature sound that delivers varied execution with each coming album and thus Bombay Bicycle Club seems to be experiencing an identity crisis as with each new album comes what seems like a different band. Now it should be corrected that experimenting with sound is not a mistake and that each of Bombay’s album have not been a complete failure at all. The issue seems to be that each album is not a complete success either; how can one experiment with his or her own sound if there is not a stable sound to build off of or transform to begin with? It is like making a sculpture out of air, expecting that a masterpiece with manifest. This being said, Bombay Bicycle Club should not be condemned for trying new sounds and forms of identity since it is simply the honest and logical thing to do when a band is trying to figure itself out in the growing music industry today. However, it will feel as if being introduced to the same person at a party seven times with a different name to account of each encounter; the jumble of sounds and differences over the past years have created a confusion for the audience as with each new album comes a different and new audience with no cohesion from the last.

From flirting with various samples, voice manipulations, and superfluous noises, Bombay Bicycle club sports their ability to muddle in the production room. This is a side of the band that is the loudest new aspect of the their identity on this album. While good production has always been apparent in their music, never has it been this experimental or dance orientated. Much of this has to do with the exotic sound inspiration that came from lead singer Jack Steadman’s travels from Asia to the Middle East. This fresh aspect of the album is what makes many of the songs enchanting and illuminating with certain brilliance, even though much of it may seem unnecessary and overcompensating. There is a hard balance here to contain between the Bollywood like samples, fuzz guitar, and even the cowbell without sounding too overwhelming. Bombay does a fairly good job of it without So Long, See You Tomorrow sounding like complete chaos. Since much of the sound is a jarring transition from their previous albums, the wreckage of noise is only surprising, not wrongly developed.

From the first track of the album, “Overdone,” to the last “So Long, See You Tomorrow,” this ten-track album is a jumble of electronic samples and fuzz. But there seems to be a disconnect from the beginning to the end. “Overdone” is chaotic and comparable to electronic produced by Gold Panda while “So Long, See You Tomorrow” is more of a James Blake approach at the new sound. Albeit that it was said that their experimentation with identity should be welcomed, their progress of the new sound of the course of ten songs does not sound like the same focus. While the first four songs have great cohesion, tracks “Whenever, Wherever,” “Eyes off You,” and “So Long, See You Tomorrow,” feels like they should come off a different album. The buildup towards the end, where complete madness is released before a peace is met, is similar on most tracks but the piano aspects on “Eyes off You,” do not match up with the Bollywood samples on various tracks and dub feel on others. While some tracks shine on their own, others feel awkward and unwanted.

Outside of the production enchantment on the album, So Long, See You Tomorrow holds a sugary sincerity with the gently love tracks and hopeful jams. The raucous feeling and electronic vibrant track “Carry Me” is sweet in the hopeful tone Steadman’s fragile vocals setup in the song. The track could be talking about a man fighting for a crumbling relationship or just a lover singing to his beloved on their importance. The sorrowful dissonance that is creating within “Eyes Off You” is breathtaking as well. Steadman’s voice on the ballad is crumbling and crying for another letting he or she know that he cannot seem to erase them from his optical nerve let alone his mind. The feminine vocals on the track add another aspect of beauty. What is interesting about this album is that Bombay Bicycle Club has managed to incorporate electronic and chaotic aspects on majority of the tracks while also being able to conjure different emotions. Meaning that even though “Carry Me” has a dub feel, it does not sound like a Skrillex love song, it sounds like a love song that was embellished in the right ways. It is good that the band has managed to create appropriate energy on this album since some songs may seem to lack lyrical sophistication and originality- much of the production overshadows this faulty misstep.

This fourth album may be a conundrum in noise as Bombay Bicycle Club enters a new territory of sound. There tenacity has to be admired for making something that is far from boring or “been there, done that.” So Long, See You Tomorrow is complex in sound as well as critical acclaim, seeing that the band’s identity has yet to be completely solidified. However, throughout the past several years the band has evolved in such a strong, unbelievable way that one can only hope that they reach their final destination of sound with confidence and contentment soon.

“And I keep the world away, to be asleep throughout the day is all I need.”

1. Overdone
The album bursts open with this enchanting and high-spirited track. With a repetitive clarinet melody in combination with what sounds like a tune from a Wes Anderson soundtrack, the opening track carries an easy-going and mellow vibe that is translated well within the first thirty seconds. Immediately one can observe that Bombay Bicycle Club is straying from their darker and more rock orientated sound and experimenting with more of an indie pop sound. What keeps the track balanced is a signature heavy fuzz guitar melody contrasted against the bouncy synth beats. The use of the exotic, Bollywood sounding sample is a great call that conjures an almost nostalgic sound. The lyric content is heavier compared to the charming beat with the verse, “And I keep the world away to sleep throughout the day.” What sounds like emphasis on a symptom of depression is verified by the ending line, “was it enough when we first fell in love to plant the seed and just leave?” Sounding like a lover overwhelmed with pain after the significant other left, the lyrics reflect a harsher tone versus the dancier vibes. The contrast is nice in a way where the heavy fuzz bass line coincides with the darker side of the song as the enchanting pop portion of the track keeps the listener mesmerized. The only problem with the track is the awkward fadeout that carries into this loud combustion of noise but continues with no connection to the following track. Overall, despite the unexpected ending, the track holds for a promising beginning.8.0
2. It’s Alright Now
A buzzing beginning with airy, heavily manipulated backup vocals and repetitive whistling that is reminiscent of a train horn develops into an adrenaline pumping drum line. The song is very catchy and upbeat with beautiful vocals that slowly escalate as its four minutes proceed onward. The track listens like an army preparing for war with the strong bass and jumpy drums. The lyrics read about a lover who seems to be loyal to another and cannot rid the feelings he carries as, “some of these feelings never died/ I step onto your side,” but the track is a bit melancholic as the beloved does not seem to feel the same, “you never did see mine/ tell me you’re sleeping still tonight.” Other lines such as, “made a plan to be someone/ mess it up when the moment comes/ step away step away stay numb,” hold the same melancholy tone continuously throughout the track. Somehow the melodies of the track don’t match completely with the tone of the lyrics creating a slight dissonance, keeping the track from perfection.7.5
3. Carry Me
This track picks up with a weird introduction that does not continue from the previous track in an amiable fashion with peculiar voice distortions and warped synths. This track is the most electronic dance music orientated song with the heavy synth bass that drops as if Bon Iver had a baby with Dillon Francis. It is completely unique and hypnotic with the beachy guitar melody and weird saxophone-like beat compliment. What makes this track stick out like a sore thumb is the fact that Bombay Bicycle Club has never done a track like this with such heavy electronic accents and repetitive lyrics. But despite its odd nature, it’s a really well produced track. The hollow vocals of Jack Steadman are wonderful alongside every melody that plays into the song- from the tiny portion of sparking synths to the heavy drums. This song contains great energy that makes one want to get up off her feet and dance her butt off or just do something risky. There is not much content lyrically to dissect here with the main energy of the song being harnessed in the chorus, “you carry me.” The chorus makes the song sound like a love tune but other lyrics such as, “ It’s time I let my mind disarm/ I never meant to cause you harm/ Just try to keep my options near/ I want you home, I want you hear,” makes the song sound like a ballad of a lover trying to win back his separated beloved. The song carries a pretty lyric content but also houses fantastic production.8.5
4. Home By Now
This song opens with a dance-like R&B type beat that sounds like those of Gold Panda with the heavy piano and jarring guitar over synth beats. Another well produced track with a great beat that develops really nicely throughout almost five minutes. The vocals of Steadman are great with feminine backup vocals. The lead guitar that comes in mid track is strong and powerful, filling the track nicely along with jittery guitar riffing in the beginning of the track that sounds similar to an orchestral instrument. This holds only light and fluffy lyric content with the chorus, “If you wanna try, you can come out and see me/ I could be home by now,” and the verse, “I'll remember long drives, sitting in the back/Looking out and endless snow/ Waiting in the silence, if you won't spill your heart/ I'll chase you for the words you owe.” Really, really lovely track.8.5
5. Whenever, Whenever
With a very nude intro, this track opens up slowly and softly. It has a drum line that sounds like its stuck in the nineties in the club scene, but it surprisingly works well with the track. It’s contrasted against the racing guitar creating a nice balance of sound. Steadman’s high registers that he reaches throughout the song are perfect and worth admiring. The track is has a pop like aspect, which is where its catchiness comes from. The explosion of sound towards the latter of the track is fun and lively keeping the track from getting monotonous. The peculiar combination of dance and rock are apparent on this track like in previous songs, and its execution again is a job well done. It’s also nice how the conclusion of the song is similar to its beginning as it fades out subtly, completing its continuation into the next track; this is probably the first good transition on the album.8.0
6. Luna
The transition from “Whenever, Wherever” leads to a refreshing start as the twittering backbone chimes in. The sound of the song is tropical, exotic with the ethnic sounding drum. But this delicate aspect of the track is overshadowed by cheesy synths and a boring drumbeat. This track does not seem to hold the magical indie dance sound like the others do. The twittering synths seem to lose their character towards the end of the song. The female vocals on this track do not fit well together either. The track has good energy with heavy drumbeats that close out the song, but that seems to be the only benevolent aspect of the track. The mediocre production on this track coupled with the opening lyrics, “I will bathe myself/ then I will wear you for the night,” and tacky references to the moon downgrade the track even more. This track is not a winner.6.5
7. Eye Off You
This is the first slow ballad of the album. Beginning with a delicate piano melody backed by light synths, Steadman’s vocals stand pure and strong over the background. The track is gentle. But towards the last quarter of the song an electronic buildup appears that’s filled with energy that mimics the lyrics, “I can’t be sad,” sung over and over again. The buildup dissolves quickly leaving the piano lonesome as the track eventually fades out.6.0
8. Feel
This song is a bit of an enigma. It’s catchy and very poppy, but some things are a bit off. From the opening ethnic beat to the bongo drum mixed with a heavy synth bass, the track sounds like it’s having an identity crisis. Wait, is that a bit of cowbell in there? The mixture of the two genres just sounds too messy. The guitar solo is not a good choice, along with the random string section on the chorus. The lyrics are not great either. Starting off with a grammar error where one should know there singular tense. And the vague cheesy chorus is not pleasant as Steadman coos, “just one feeling/ just one feeling/ then I know.” What does he know? Love? Sex? Hate? How vague this song is? So Long, See You Tomorrow started off on a strong note with the first few tracks but has soon fallen off the path with this one.6.0
9. Come to
The band gets a little back on track with this one. A basic bass line and thin synths open the track with Steadman’s vocals work harmoniously along with the old school strings on the chorus. The tambourine adds a good flavor, keeping the track balanced. This one is a head bobber. A nice clap beat is added at the end as the song builds up in a chaotic matter to inevitably close out with layered vocals. The beats and melody are good, but the lyrics lack a little bit of shine. “It’s hard to see it for all the rust/ I saw it fading and I have some faith in us,” sings Steadman in his signature cool manner. The lyrics are very opaque with not much conclusions to draw except that it’s probably about a couple that is trying to rebuild their relationship. Nothing too intense or interesting.7.5
10. So Long, See You Tomorrow
Another enigma off the album, this track is an odd one. Starting off with a completely different sound from the rest of the album- slow and moderate. Almost sounds like it was inspired by James Blake with the minimalist approach and eventual build up by the end. The end of the song contains weird bouncing synths and disjointed drumbeats that lead it to an unsatisfying termination for the end of the song, but also for the entire album. It is an intriguing song with a weird, unconventional beat that builds itself up and transforms into something completely unexpected, however the song feels absolutely out of place. “Where did this come from?” is all that comes to mind with this one.5.5
Written by Margaret Farrell
Margaret Farrell is a writer from outside Chicago. She is currently a student at New York University, studying journalism and creative writing.



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