Bombay Bicycle Club - A Different Kind Of Fix Release Date: 08/29/2011
Record Label: Island Records
It’s rare enough for a band to release three albums in as many years but to release the best album of your career each time on top of that is a truly commendable accomplishment. In 2009, Bombay Bicycle Club released their debut album, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, which demonstrated their ability in the indie field. Fusing subtle hints of electronic angles or acoustic bliss with perfect indie-pop instrumentation, the band made an instant and noticeable impact on the music scene despite some of the songs being years old. Fast-forward to a year later and the band changed it up completely by releasing their acoustic album, Flaws, which swerved into more intimate and intricate melodies, showcasing the band’s skill within yet another genre. Now, here we are with album number three on our doorstep, all eager to know one thing, “what does this one sound like?”
Bombay Bicycle Club has, once again, managed to progress effortlessly and produce their best album by quite some distance. This time around we see lead singer/guitarist, Jack Steadman’s, solo electronic efforts thrown into the mixing pot, with looped samples, synthetic drums and various subtle effects throughout. These are combined with Ben Allen (Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion) and Jim Abbiss’ (I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose) production techniques to create a sweeping, diverse and fascinating landscape. The incredibly talented Suren De Saram drives the band with beats that are often hooks within themselves, whilst Ed Nash delivers some of the best bass lines I’ve heard in some time and guitarist, Jamie MacColl, weaves his brilliant melodies into each of the tracks. Another aspect worth mentioning is the inclusion of Lucy Rose, who featured on Flaws and compliments Steadman’s unique vocals incredibly well. On A Different Kind Of Fix, her presence is even more noticeable as she lends her vocals to various songs on this release.
The album opens with a newly tweaked version of the infectious and airy, “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep”, a track which even on first hearing sounds great but on further listening displays superbly constructed layers and consequently ends up being something really special. “Bad Timing” then starts abruptly, showcasing a more aggressive side to the group combined with some subtle vocal effects, feeling like a track from their debut album on steroids and thusly, a personal highlight. “Your Eyes”, “Lights Out, Words Gone”, “Take The Right One” and “Leave It” are perfect examples of swoon-worthy summer songs which seem to pick you up and carry you in their wave of hooks and effects, whilst lead single, “Shuffle”, represents everything that A Different Kind Of Fix stands for with it’s wonky piano and enchanting climax.
Fans undoubtedly hold Flaws close to their hearts due to its intimacy, but this album doesn’t go without those moments either. “Beggars” and "Fracture" are extensions of that material and album closer, “Still”, sounds like a song that so many Radiohead fans still yearn for. It’s quite simply breath taking, heart breaking and incredibly fragile. Steadman delivers lines such as, “Did he fill the empty spaces? Was he everything I’m not? There’s no force behind my mouth but in just three words he brings you down. There’s a movement out the door, I swear. But no, your lips they stay perfectly still,” in such a haunting falsetto that it is hard to not be moved.
There are very few negatives to acknowledge on this record, but it does have a tendency to lose momentum every so often and therefore fail to hold your full attention. Certain tracks can almost lose their footing in various circumstances and feel like they have lost their direction for a moment. Luckily, this is a rare occurrence, which is easily forgiven and subsequently forgotten in the grand scheme of things.
In conclusion, Bombay Bicycle Club, has constructed their most coherent album to date, bettering themselves once again to produce a record that deserves the attention of so many. It is all-at-once beautiful, infectious, impressive and brilliant.This is a band that is able to constantly move forward in both their sound and ability without even a hint of tripping and this exceptional release is evidence of just that.
I love this band, are they really that similar to Animal Collective? I've never listened to them before, but I might need to if this is the case.
Also, great review, Kyle. Very detailed and makes me even more excited to hear this record in full. Are you reviewing Laura Marling?
They aren't that similar really, but you can tell Ben Allen's work on Animal Collective's last album features here in the production side of things. There are elements musically that are similar, but it's more of a production "RIYL". You should still most definitely check them out though.
Wait wait - you've never listened to A.C. at all? Any album?
I honestly haven't. Right around the time Merriweather Post Pavilion came out was the time in my life when I would not have liked an album like Merriweather Post Pavilion. Since then, though, it's been a case of just never getting around to it.
"Shuffle" sounds a bit more upbeat than their earlier stuff. If the rest of the album follows lead, I'm game!
I'd say that is a great representation of the album, there are slower and more delicate tracks as I stated, and the album as a whole does have an air of "chill" about it but not necessarily in the acoustic manner which that might insinuate. There are so many little details and layers/textures going on that it generally does feel more "upbeat" even if the actually song itself is quite a chilled out one on the surface of things.