Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix
Three albums in and from the novel piano riff of Bombay Bicycle Club’s single ‘Shuffle’, indie rockers across the land were once again preparing themselves for another album that has them resolutely refusing to lay claim to any of the genres they have dabbled in.
Said indie rockers would be in for quite a surprise. Within ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’, an album that encompasses tracks written throughout their career,Bombay Bicycle Club have finally carved out a niche they can finally lay claim to. It would seem the exorcism of their ‘nu-folk’ demons in ‘Flaws’ was not entirely complete, nor had they curbed their addiction to the muted distortions of ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’, resulting in a sound that encompasses both of their previous LP length outings.
The record’s opening track ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’, starts with a peaceful ambience that instantly sets the tone for the song that springs forth. Instruments are constantly added to the mix as the track builds, gradually rising in tempo and atmosphere before flickering and fading on an vocal loop. The heavier electronic presence in the album is impressed upon the listener before they have a chance to think otherwise. From there we are transported back to 2008 with ‘Bad Timing’, a track that fits as easily into their third album as it does their first. The muted guitar, restrained vocals and understated ambience providing ample de ja vu. ‘Your Eyes’, bounces around, with uplifting synths offsetting the dark bass line that runs throughout. ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’ is another of the strongest on the album. It’s quirky guitar riffs and emphasis on subtlety and nuanced sounds build an engaging soundscape.The album then descends into melancholy and a tried and tested formula familiar known to all adult orientated rockers (See Snow Patrol, Coldplay) before emerging into the jaunty brilliance of the LPs first single. ‘Shuffle’ still remains one of the strongest tracks on the album, and indeed one of their strongest ever. It however falls foul of the same predicament of most singles, in that it does not fit with much of the album, in many cases accentuating many of its eccentricities, whilst removing much of the ambience that ties the rest together. It cannot be helped that track leaves you dissapointed, not in its quality, but on the shadow it casts on the rest of the album. Thoughts of quite what could have been race past as it reaches its chaotic, off beat end.
‘Beggars’ has the responsibility of following up Shuffle. It’s folky acoustics and percussive set-up harking back to their ‘Flaws’ days. A safety blanket of sorts. ‘Leave It’ and ‘Fracture’ both head back to the ambience heavy realms A Different Kind Of Fix revels in.
The album then takes a paradigm shift in it’s last 3 tracks, straying from cogency in favour of diversity. ‘What What You Want’ has a frantic energy accentuated by the urgency in Steadman’s voice and the harsh symbal thrashing. ‘Favourite Day’ takes on a hymn like structure, quaint and querky, only held in check but the textured approach to production so prominent throughout the album. The albums closing track ‘Still’ takes the largest stride from the norm. A lone piano ballad. A declaration of musical talent and ability that feels somewhat awkwardly juxtaposed to the rest. A beautiful song it is, but not one necessarilly fitting of carrying out the album.
There’s no denying that ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’ feels like an album of consolidation. Previous grounds are retreaded in search of a sound they can call their own. In amongst their folky musings, new found electronic leanings and intense ambient distortions they have found one. Whether they will continue to further their new found comfort zone remains to be seen. For now though, let’s just appreciate a beautifully crafted album that manages to offer something new whilst successfully tying together their first musical trilogy. One that again manages to place them at the forefront of alternative music and one of the most talented bands to emerge from Britain in recent years. Is it too early to be hankering for album 4?