It might seem odd to describe Bombay Bicycle Club as veterans given that nobody in the band is older than 24, but this is the London quartet's fourth album, each one more successful than the last, which is a notable achievement in today's climate of rapid ascents and sudden declines. Their steady rise is something that rarely happens anymore -- a band given space by their label, Island, to evolve unpredictably with each release and take their audience with them.
So Long, See You Tomorrow is their richest, boldest and most euphoric album yet, and their first UK number one. This autumn, following a string of international festival appearances including Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds, Latitude, Fuji Rocks and Lollapalooza, the band will play their first ever UK arena date at London's Earls Court. They have a healthy, ever-growing following in continental Europe and the US, too, with all of their dates having sold out. The more risks Bombay Bicycle Club take, the bigger they get.
"I feel like we've found the balance, making it interesting and intelligent but not highbrow or elitist," says frontman Jack Steadman. "You want to satisfy the people who like the technical side of music but someone listening on the radio should be able to sing along."
Bombay Bicycle Club are Jack Steadman (vocals, keyboards and guitar), Jamie MacColl (guitar), Suren de Saram (drums) and Ed Nash (bass). They grew up in north London and signed to Island after leaving secondary school at 18, releasing their guitar-driven debut, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, in 2009. Their second album, Flaws, in 2010, saw an unexpected change of direction: folky and intimate, it was nominated for the Ivor Novello for Best Album. Their third album in as many years, A Different Kind of Fix, arrived in 2011. Living up to the title's promise, it was a dramatic departure, with agile rhythms, sampled loops and vertiginous swirls of guitar.
So Long, See You Tomorrow is yet another leap forward, a beautiful collection of songs that owe more to experimental electronica than to indie-rock. In fact, the whole album is one giant loop, because it is bookended with the same melody -- the beatific title track effectively segues back into the surging, string-laden opener, Overdone. Compounding the sensation is the last lyric the listener hears: "Keep going round and round and round..."
Jack, who writes all the band's songs, can trace his absorption in loops to the first music he made as a teenager, using a simple pre-GarageBand software program called eJay. "Everyone talks about how our albums have been different, but from my point of view, this was there the whole time," says Jack. "I started recording music at 15 on my computer and it was far more experimental than any of the Bombay stuff." (This he attributes to "getting into stuff like Boards of Canada and discovering psychoactive drugs -- a lethal combination!")
Rhythm is the key to So Long, See You Tomorrow. The show-stopping first single, "Carry Me," is a tough, restless dance anthem, its vocal refrain looped like a sample. Echoing the album's theme of circularity, the interactive video, which allows viewers to animate the band, was inspired by the great 19th century stop-motion photography pioneer Eadweard Muybridge.
| Apple Music