Identifying ‘stand out’ tracks from Bombay Bicycle Club’s progressive, engulfing and eclectic fourth album has proven deliciously tricky. Jack Steadman and co. have gifted us an experimental delight with essences of psychedelic and prog rock, especially in opener “Overdone”, the loop of which returns in “So Long, See You Tomorrow” and establishes the album’s cohesive nature.
This is the first of their albums to be so liberal with the synthesiser, and influences from Steadman’s trips to India, Holland and Turkey are rife. The use of sampling therefore gives the album a worldly feel. It’s apparent in “Feel”, which has a distinctly Bollywood vibe and the enjoyable addition of what sounds suspiciously like a cowbell. Recording in their Edgware Road studio has allowed the band experimental freedom, transporting what they began to do with third album A Different Kind of Fix into an acid house somewhere in Asia.
First single, “Carry Me”, has an incredibly catchy hook, the sort of thing that’s inescapable from the first listen, as well as moments of suspenseful calm before the return of the gloriously driving drum beat. Second single “Luna”’s feel-good summer sound is aided by the delicate talents of singer-songwriter Rae Morris, who features in several tracks on the album.
The band’s second album, the folk-based, Joni Mitchell and John Martyn influenced Flaws, now seems like a teacup ride when faced with So Long…’s loop-the-loop roller coaster. Still, elements of Flaws’s effortless charm are revisited in “Eyes Off You”. It has those raw qualities heard in Steadman’s haunting vocals in “My God”. It also epitomises the triumph of So Long…, managing to retain Steadman’s pure, resonant vocals, while they’re set against a backdrop of eclectic world influences.
The band’s progression is firmly established in closing and title track, “So Long, See You Tomorrow”. Its intro (although reminiscent of childhood Christmas Days spent fiddling with synthesiser options on your new electric keyboard), sets the experimental tone of the track, which matures into a psychedelic journey. Changes in tempo and tone demonstrate the band’s accomplished talents and give a sense of velocity; there’s something more dynamic going on here than the static verse-chorus structure we have become accustomed to.
Despite taking their name from a chain of Indian restaurants, and Steadman’s first instrument being squeaky primary school favourite, the recorder, Bombay Bicycle Club have ventured far from their humble beginnings with So Long, See You Tomorrow. It’s their most energising and exciting album to date.Katie Barclay