Some bands can change their sound as often as their underwear (some, possibly more often) and get nothing but praise for re-invention, for being true to their muse, pioneers. When Peter Buck sat cross-legged, invented the mandolin, and REM pasted a few strings on top of some ok melodies, it was seen as another example of their independence. Full disclosure: Out Of Time is probably the most important album I’ve ever bought, so: tongue meet cheek.
Bombay Bicycle Club, on the other hand, get no such easy ride, which is painful for them, and a test for me as I try to avoid making obvious two-wheeled-transport puns. They rocked and roughed on I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose before calming down far too much on second album Flaws, before deciding that what they needed was a bit of groove, which they provided for 2011’s A Different Kind of Fix. With stand-out tracks like Bad Timing it seemed they’d finally found the formula, which is why there’s been less shuffling of the pieces than usual for So Long, See You Tomorrow. Less shuffling, but some clever additions: So Long, See You Tomorrow’s peaks are defined by backing vocals that lend it an air of sweet optimism.
Opener Overdone starts off as Bonobo plus bite, and ends as a messy freakout with hammond; its lead-in / pause for a beat / explode into chorus motif is then taken to a joyful new level by Its Alright Now. Later, Luna pops and fizzes in much the same vein, adding in some beautiful backing vocals from Rae Morris. If Foals and Friendly Fires ever get it together as a supergroup, this could be their calling card.
Elsewhere, slower tracks come and go nicely enough but leave without a devastating trace: the piano trills and sunkissed, top down sunshine drive vibe of Home by Now are the highlight of that bunch.
Just when you think the album might be petering out in the second half, Come To saves the day. Starting out chiming like a pitch perfect rendition of a dream pop memory, it lurches alarmingly into an awkward verse that almost makes you want to press skip. I would advise against that, though: you’ll only miss out on a series of passages that just keep getting more and more beautiful, the return of the chiming guitars from the intro, and some more tingle-inducing back vocals from Morris.
The album closes with the title track; a come-down after earlier highs. Maybe it’s the Foals/Friendly Fires break-up song? Except… about four minutes in, magic happens, and you get one last hurrah, a final burst of energy before going home, happy and contented.