Bombay Bicycle Club were a sizeable force in indie rock when they took a hiatus to do solo projects in 2016. Four years later, and six since their last and appropriately titled LP release So Long, See You Tomorrow, BBC has returned with their highly-anticipated album Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, riding off of the promotional strength of an EP of early demos and three singles with accompanying music videos.
With the hype covered the execution must follow, and all sounds good from the outset. “Get Up” kicks off the festivities, starting with a chorus of jazzy, metropolitan horns soon accompanied by a pulsing 808 bassline and frontman Jack Steadman’s easy, gliding vocals; building gradually to a thundering peak before crashing back down. “Is It Real” is a peppy, poppy tune, laden with melodic goodness and hip urban drive, while the namesake “Everything Else Has Gone Wrong” is marked by a worldly groove, hypnotically monotone vocal renderings and an assorted series of rubbery synths throughout.
“I Can Hardly Speak” hits a more contagious note, driven by a prominent, catchy beat and an equally hooking set of melodies on the verses and chorus. “Good Day” mellows things out considerably, a galloping drum beat set over a MIDI synth and laying the ground down for a soothing blanket of light keys and guitar- not to mention an uppy-though-sleepily-delivered chorus: “I just want to have a good day, and it’s only me that’s standing in my way.” The video game sounds and chill vibes continue over into “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)”, the drums being far more organic than before and the floating cloud of synth above the living, breathing band turning a regular indie track into an entrancing auditory euphoria.
“I Worry Bout You” starts off and develops on funky, hip-hop-esque dynamics while maintaining its indie core, the anthemically constructed chorus sounding like an avant-garde melding of U2 and the Robert Glasper Experiment. “People People” featuring Liz Lawrence features some fine vocal work though is largely par-for-the-course as far as indie goes, while “Do You Feel Loved?” goes full Eastern where “People People”’s mild Occidental dabblings go only so far as to tease. It’s always a pleasure when artists are able to toy with international elements in their craft without betraying their founding ground, this being one of these ear-pleasing occasions.
“Let You Go”, defined centrally by a chopped-up vocal sample and a rumbling floor of bass synth is, to use a word, a fantastic track and an adventure in itself amidst the other ten tracks BBC has offered up this time around. Their finale “Racing Stripes” plays out devoid of percussion and builds to the end much in the same way the opener “Get Up” did- albeit perhaps sleepier, more sedated and relaxed as an eventual climax is brought about. With the final notes played out, the conclusion can be fairly reached that Everything Else is a well-done and formidable return to the world of song for Bombay Bicycle Club. There’s something to be said for strategic absence, whether their hiatus was a case of that or not; there’s also a lot, negative mainly to be said about being lazy and taking way too long to follow up. This definitely wasn’t a case of the latter, and it shows through clear as day.