Album review: Bombay Bicycle Club – Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 January 2020
A mixed bag of softly-spoken worry and synth-strafed indie from the veteran north Londoners.
It's five whole years since the Crouch Enders and Muswell Hillbillies of the 'Club released their Mercury-nominated swansong So Long, See You Tomorrow.
Breaking that indefinite hiatus, the band say people can to turn to Everything Else Has Gone Wrong "in a time of crisis". They're not so wide of the mark, in that these 11 tracks appear to be aimed squarely at fans looking for that warm, fuzzy feeling of safe space familiarity. But it's also unlikely to win many new advocates.
It starts with the blustering promise of Get Up, frontman Jack Steadman's balm-like vocal floating atop fizzing drum and cymbal crashes, bubbly guitar and fuzzy neon synths.
Is It Real is a taut indie-pop bounce-along, the upbeat music set against Steadman's hand-wringing over the inevitable march of time, a theme he returns to more explicitly in Good Day ("First my looks and now my friends, day by day I'm losing them") which reflects on the struggle against the black dog and is arguably the album highlight.
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The title track, about finding solace in music, chugs along unremarkably at first, its Lego-like synths painting a happy mask. The payoff comes when it coalesces around a descending motif that starts small but swells, spitting out sparks of synths while frontman Jack Steadman repeats the punchy, valedictory couplet: "I guess I've found my peace again/And yes I've found my second wind".
However, the obsession underlying Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You) and I Worry Bout You is flattened by muted arrangements that become more pervasive in the record's second half - People People plods along in search of relief from its own pedestrian drudgery and Do You Feel Loved? betrays the best efforts of flitting panpipes and staccato drums. Let You Go should really be called Do Not Resuscitate and tiptoeing album closer Racing Stripes - puzzlingly chosen as the record's third single - is no shot of adrenaline, either.
While there are some redeeming features, this feels less like a comeback than it does a creative cul de sac - one the band needs to rescue itself from.
Bombay Bicycle Club play Alexandra Palace on February 7