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Bombay Bicycle Club - Everything Else Has Gone Wrong (Album Review)

Thursday, 23 January 2020 Written by Helen Payne

Photo: Josh Shinner

There’s something reassuring about the fact that Bombay Bicycle Club haven’t misplaced the tools needed to make a Bombay Bicycle Club record in the years since the band called it a day.

The indie outfit’s members branched out into new projects after setting aside the band that had defined their lives since their school days—frontman Jack Steadman released a production-focused album as Mr Jukes, and bassist Ed Nash turned his hand to songwriting and put out a solo album as Toothless. Jamie MacColl, meanwhile, got a Masters degree, and Suren de Saram hit the road as a session drummer.

Their fifth album, ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’, is unavoidably inspired by these trips into unspoilt scenery, but frustratingly they haven’t been able to use them to create something new.

Notably, Nash found the confidence to write some tracks here, a first for the band, while some time out gave Steadman the perspective to add a fresh spin on his lyrics and themes. He touches on melting ice caps, adult responsibilities and contemporary technology across the LP but, alas, without really making any salient points.

The other side of that equation is that it’s great to discover that the band’s core sound—the vulnerability of Steadman’s vocals, the cohesion of female backing singers (long time collaborator Liz Lawrence and Billie Marten), and an overall effervescent indie mood—is still maintained. In fact, the songs on ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’ already feel familiar. 

One listen to I Can Hardly Speak or lead single Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You), and some ties to their back catalogue are immediately felt. Do You Feel Loved? would fit well on ‘So Long See You Tomorrow’, with its wide-angle layers of instrumentation and global influences, and Is It Real, despite its questionably tinny production, is as bright and boppy as Take The Right One from ‘A Different Kind Of Fix’.

However, something big is missing. These are pleasant, comforting songs released at a time of political and environmental despair, but nothing really grabs the attention like their earlier work. Too often the main vocal lines are monotonous and less agile than previous big hitters, with main culprits Good Day, People People, the title track and Let You Go lacking the same sense of melody that earlier albums excelled in. 

‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’ is the sound of a band reuniting and re-learning how to write songs and play together. While various side projects may have changed certain aspects of their process, or influenced which producer to hire, it seems that time away may also have failed to provide the injection of creative fire Bombay Bicycle Club thought they needed back in 2016. 

Bombay Bicycle Club Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu January 23 2020 - LEICESTER De Montfort Hall
Fri January 24 2020 - CARDIFF Cardiff University Students Union
Sat January 25 2020 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Mon January 27 2020 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Tue January 28 2020 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Wed January 29 2020 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Fri January 31 2020 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Sat February 01 2020 - BRIGHTON Centre
Mon February 03 2020 - MANCHESTER O2 Victoria Warehouse Manchester
Tue February 04 2020 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Thu February 06 2020 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Fri February 07 2020 - LONDON Alexandra Palace
Sat February 08 2020 - LONDON Alexandra Palace
Mon February 10 2020 - DUBLIN Vicar Street
Tue February 11 2020 - DUBLIN Vicar Street
Wed February 12 2020 - BELFAST Ulster Hall Belfast
Sun February 16 2020 - LONDON Bush Hall

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