The band reconvened in 2018 to discuss playing some celebratory shows for the 10th anniversary of their debut album. ‘People People’ feels equally cluttered, clumsily juxtaposing sweet melodies and lovelorn lyrics with overwhelming synths and clattering percussion. This comeback does a fine job of updating the beloved indie band's trademark style, though there are sometimes too many ideas jostling for attention. Each element works on its own, but when they’re all fused together the results are jumbled and overwhelming. And frustratingly some of these cracks continue into the rest of ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’.
I Can Hardly Speak might concern the perils of echo chambers, but Steadman fails to make a point that would resonate in his own bubble, let alone pierce another; the moody People People is a meek wish that humankind could “make a subtle difference” through connection. On the muted, downbeat “Good Day,” he briefly touches on “the melting ice caps in my drink” but tosses it aside to dwell on aging, the loss of friends, and the listless refrain: “I just want to have a good day/And it’s only me that’s standing in my way”. But doing a reunion tour without new music didn’t feel right. In the album announcement, the band indicated that this would be an album of “music in a time of crisis” and “finding kernels of hope and renewal in dire situations.” However, these strongly worded descriptions belie the fact that Steadman’s lyrics largely seem to deal with internal mutterings and a kind of personal, low-level malaise. This is a playful record, from the swooning brass that opens the album on “Get Up” to the squiggly synth-flute sample on the shuffling “Do You Feel Loved?” Its propulsive rhythms often feel perfectly engineered for sunset slots at summer festivals. The band’s second coming arrives with some added grit, mostly to the guitar and bass sounds, with more distortion in evidence than previously, even if it stops well short of out and out rock. Perhaps you thrashed along to Bombay Bicycle Club’s post-punk jams at the pub in 2009, when they released their debut I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose; or maybe you were more into the stark genre-flip of their 2010 follow-up, Flaws, which was more freakish whisper-folk. Bombay Bicycle Club's fifth album 'Everything Else Has Gone Wrong' is the first since the band ended their indefinite hiatus, and a welcome return. After a long hiatus, the big-tent UK pop band returns with a joyful but middling album that’s a little bit of everything they’ve always been.
Producer John Congleton’s work (most famously with St Vincent) is usually gleaming and ruthless. Bombay Bicycle Club: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong review – songs to buy a mid-range hatchback to ... It’s curious that Everything Else Has Gone Wrong started from a nostalgic impulse. Bombay Bicycle Club: Everything Else has Gone Wrong album art work. Tentative conversations about 10-year anniversary shows for their debut ‘I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ turned into recording sessions, and three years later, in early 2019, Bombay Bicycle Club reignited the life in many a waning indie fan’s veins by announcing that they were back, back, back. This is what holds Bombay Bicycle Club’s latest iteration back: a tendency for the self-referential. As they did on So Long, the band take great delight in disappearing down into rabbit holes of sound, as with “Let You Go,” which crescendoes in a flurry of chopped vocals, guitars, and synths. None of it is compelling or well-written – the constant lyrical repetition really grates – especially when he attempts grand statements. It’s masterfully handled, but ultimately, not a “kernel of hope or renewal in a dire situation.” On Everything Else, the band reminds us why it is that they’re still so beloved after 10 years in the game (those earworm melodies are unshakeable!) This odd, possibly tactless statement sums up the level of conviction on show here. It was a decision that was born of the fact that, having found success while still at school, the four-piece has never known any other career, and were getting complacent. It is music for adverts that depict a human life unfolding in 45 seconds as a heartwarming reminder to buy a mid-range European hatchback. The bass leads the track, whilst Steadman balances the melancholic with the uplifting, singing 'Keep the stereo on, everything else has gone wrong'. There are subtle synthesizers under the stops and starts of the title track, while “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)” uses a synthesizer crescendo to build the tension of its repeated chorus. The palpable joy of Everything Else indicates that the hiatus was healthy for the band. Throughout their career, the UK band shifted from one identity to the next, and when they hit their peak, they announced they were going to take an indefinite hiatus. It’s curious that Everything Else Has Gone Wrong started from a nostalgic impulse.
Cracks appeared on their third single from the record, the sleepy ‘Racing Stripes’, a sticky ballad that borrows vocals from singer-songwriter Billie Marten and traipses to the finish line. To what extent has it become fashionable to frame music in the context of generalized “crisis”? Follow-up singles followed suit. Their first since 2014's electro-pop masterpiece So Long, See You Tomorrow, it greets you like an old friend as you two sit down at a familiar table to catch up over a pint. But they are not telling us anything we didn’t already know. The world's defining voice in music and pop culture since 1952. The result is Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, a brightly hued record that combines frontman Jack Steadman’s crate-digging and synth-noodling with guitar-driven hooks. Guitarist Jamie MacColl went and got an undergraduate degree (and then a Masters at Cambridge), while drummer Suren de Saram spent his time as a session drummer for artists such as Jessie Ware. And despite a handful of lacklustre moments on the album, ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’ permeates the band’s trademark sound with fresh ideas. Throughout the song the shimmering instrumentation prepares you for one of the band’s trademark euphoric choruses – which never arrives. ven when reunions are no longer surprising but inevitable, Bombay Bicycle Club’s return is striking: just four years after they split, here is a fifth album, made after they met to discuss playing 10th anniversary shows for their 2009 debut and realised they missed making music together. Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is a good album. Gorgeous ‘I Worry Bout You’ is filled with fear that you have for the loved ones in your life (“I know it never shows/but I worry bout you“), the dancehall-tinged ‘Do You Feel Loved?’ scrutinises society’s reliance on social media affirmation (“soft blue light on the bed / Watch ’til your eyes turn red… Do you feel loved?”), while ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’ is filled with dizzy infatuation: “I can’t stick to the path ’cause I dream about nothing but you”. This is the sound of an ever-curious, shape-shifting band finally finding the confidence to tell us who they really are. On “Is It Real,” they deal in nostalgia, singing about watching old tape reels, while musically weaving together strands of their different sounds through the ages: skittering drums, sweet-voiced indie singalongs, and a psychedelic break. Moving away from the lush sampling of ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’, it encompassed the soaring melodies of ‘Flaws’ and the post-punk-flecked instrumentation of debut ‘I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose’.
Everything else may have gone wrong – but in amongst the chaos it sure is good to have Bombay Bicycle Club back. But Everything … is a regression: all bloodless, drab silvery chunter, like Alt-J – who at least have the audacity to be aggressively terrible – with the stubborn kinks ironed out. Ask 10 people to describe the sound of Bombay Bicycle Club you’ll probably get 10 different answers; it all depends when they got into them. Their greatest triumph is the title track—a song that, it could be argued, adheres most closely to their theme of hope in a crisis, thanks to the hand-clap-driven, lackadaisical hook that’s an absolute joy to sing along to: “Keep the stereo on/Everything else has gone wrong.” With a synth melody that blooms red like a siren, the song builds to a fantastically proggy conclusion. © 2020 NME is a member of the media division of BandLab Technologies. It exhibits many qualities of past BBC records. Take ‘Let You Go’, which fuses the jangling production of ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ with glitchy electronic beats, squelchy synths and ethereal backing vocals.
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