ALBUM: So Long, See You Tomorrow
ARTIST: Bombay Bicycle Club
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.”