The Ten Best Bombay Bicycle Club Tracks

words fae charlie leach (@YungBuchan)

For the best part of a decade, Bombay Bicycle Club were ever-present at every summer festival. A band known for their indie-rock sensibilities, their joyous hooks, and lush soundscapes, Bombay Bicycle Club cemented themselves in the every festival goer’s ear, becoming the go-to for that summer playlist. In spite of this, they are not a “summer mix” band. Their music contains hidden depths and complexities, and over their initial run of four albums, their sound developed into areas that would not have seemed possible on their debut. For anyone who hasn’t heard their work, or who wants to relive that picturesque festival day, here is a list of this writer’s top ten favourite Bombay Bicycle Club tracks.

10. Rinse Me Down

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkGpdVip4aw

Though scoffed at by many critics on its initial release, the band’s sophomore effort Flaws is an underappreciated indie folk gem. Album opener Rinse Me Down elatedly starts the album with a wonderfully bouncy rhythm, the acoustic guitars plucking together in sweet harmony. Lead singer Jack Steadman’s vocals swoon over the track, telling the story of a lover lost to another.

9. Evening/Morning

Like many standout singles from Bombay Bicycle Club, Evening/Morning has the melodies to contend with any indie band from the early 2010’s. Ed Nash’s contagious bass line punctuates the song, combined with guitar lines and vocal hooks that are reminiscent of one of their peers at the time, We Are Scientists. Like most Bombay Bicycle Club songs, Evening/Morning was a staple of their live shows, the bass line belted back to the band by their rapturous fans.

8. Carry Me

Carry Me marked the bands shift to synths, synths being an ever-present feature of their last album, So Long, See You Tomorrow. Synths here replace the typical guitar-lead hook of the song but are not missed. A hook that could be seen on an electronica album, the rest of the song is filled with chopped vocals, synthetic horns, and effects-laden guitars. Like many of their indie peers, Bombay Bicycle Club’s shift into the electronic was, on the whole, a successful one.

7. Lights Out, Words Gone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duBN7YZyIwU

Lights Out, Words Gone is a dream-pop song (emphasis on dream). A shuffling rhythm backs a walking-bass line, with guitars plucking away into the ever-lasting distance. Like many of the songs on the bands second and third album, it is lifted greatly by the angelic vocals of Lucy Rose, a frequent collaborator with the band, and an extremely talented singer-songwriter (also perfect for that Spotify picnic playlist, if so inclined).

6. Lamplight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1LrLEcrawc

This is the UK post-punk revival in a nutshell: intricate guitar hooks layered in fuzz and reverb; a bass line that provides the track firm foundation; continually pounding drums that move the track forward at every juncture; and a crooning lead vocal that moves about the track with a shaky tremolo. What separates this track from many of its contemporaries is its blaring breakdown in the latter third. Never really repeated in their discography, this breakdown blares a wall of sound onto the listener, with an almost screamed vocal filling the high end of the song. If the band does come back from their hiatus, the shoegaze-tinged direction could be something that could evolve the band again.

5. Leave It

Leave It is a song that is not immediately noticeable. During the runtime of the bands’ fourth album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, Leave It arrives and leaves in a typical Bombay Bicycle Club fashion, instilling a catchy vocal hook and memorable guitar lines. Its inclusion on this top ten list is solely down to the band’s live shows. The vocal refrain of the hook is the greatest tension builder, leading to a crescendo of a chorus bemoaning the past discretions of a lover. For want of a better word, a true belter for a live show.

4. How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgvBmEmtF-I

How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep is auditory journey that builds and builds. A typical opener for the band’s live sets, the blissful guitar refrain that begins the song grows and grows throughout the song, layer, and layer of instruments slowly building to a mystical soundscape filled with warm synths, skittering clicking samples and ghostly vocal harmonies. When this song first played at the start of their gig, the audience knew to be prepared for a glistening journey through indie rock’s finest.

3. Ivy And Gold

This top three will consist of some of the catchiest guitar melodies in indie rock. If Bombay Bicycle Club will be remembered for at least one thing, it will be some of the catchiest hooks released in a genre full of bands chasing that one hook that will make them overnight successes. Bombay Bicycle Club arguably did that several times over. Ivy And Gold is one such song that will seep into the listener’s brain, becoming the hard to forget ear-worm that will be whistled down the street a week later. Just a wonderfully cheerful tune, one that could never be hated (this writer’s Mom loves this song).

2. Shuffle

A precursor to the electronica-inspired Carry Me, Shuffle was an ever-present of the summer festival playlist, and with good reason. The chopped piano melody is an instant hit, providing the bait to envelop the listener with a tightly constructed song that oozes fun. Steadman and Rose sing with passion about sticking with a partner, this triumphant track begs to be sung with heart and vigour until the throat is run dry. It must also be said that Steadman’s remix of this track is vastly underappreciated, and is definitely worth a listen for those who like sliced and chopped music.

1. Always Like This

But don’t wear that throat out too much, there is one more riff to belt out to the heavens. The fun, staccato riff of Always Like This announced Bombay Bicycle Club to the public. This guitar line has stayed with the band, and for good reason. It is a joyous (there’s that word again), dopamine-inducing riff that never leaves. Coupled with the minor chorus that adds the spaced-out vibe, this track is the epitome of Bombay Bicycle Club.

FAVOURITE ALBUM COVERS #3

Album covers were originally just flimsy bits of paper to try and protect the shiny goods underneath but they have since evolved into something that musicians can use for their artistic expression. Although many artists tend to go for a bland picture of themselves with an equally as bland background, some musicians have produced some iconic and fantastic artwork: Here are just a handful of them.

Aphex Twin – Richard D. James Album

Aphex Twin has always been a bit of a weird character. Just like his collaborations with Chris Cunningham where his eerie smile was worn by creepy school children and hydrocephalic ravers, the Richard D. James Album manages to send a menacing vibe though without any need a faceswap. Every little detail, especially the lighting which adds to the sinisterness with touches like the glimmering eyes, lets listeners know from the get go that what they’re about to witness is just as peculiar and odd as the cover itself.

Bombay Bicycle Club – I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose

sterling_7_inv

Adorning the debut of geeky indie rock band Bombay Bicycle Club’s debut album, I Had The Blues… smartly chooses artwork that manages to represent the music hidden behind its noir colour. Taken by the late American photographer Joseph Sterling, well known for his Age of Adolescence collection, the story behind it further reinforces the youthful nature that drives the album. In Sterling’s own words:

“I took the picture in the early 1960’s along the Lake Michigan lakefront in Chicago,” wrote Joseph Sterling “It was in an area where a lot of kids hung out. A large group would take a blanket, holding it all around the edges, one guy (or girl) would lay on it and then the group of kids would lift and then “drop” it to almost the ground repeatedly and build up power and then throw the kid on the blanket very high in the air. Then they would catch him as he came down and probably do it again. It looked like a lot of fun but you had to have a lot of trust in your friends! It was a pretty popular thing at that time. I don’t know if kids do it now. It can be VERY DANGEROUS! (But they were doing this on a sand beach)”

-Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

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FAVOURITE ALBUM COVERS #2

Album covers were originally just flimsy bits of paper to try and protect the shiny goods underneath but they have since evolved into something that musicians can use for their artistic expression. Although many artists tend to go for a bland picture of themselves with an equally as bland background, some musicians have produced some iconic and fantastic artwork: Here are just a handful of them.

Death GripsThe Money Store

Starting things off a bit risque, Death Grip’s most acclaimed album also has their second most shocking album cover with No love Deep Web’s dick pic being the victor. While it simply looks like an odd man being chained up by a smoking girl, in an interview with Pitchfork the band went into detail about the cover, stating:

We consider ourselves feminists, we fiercely support homosexuality, transparent world leadership, and the idea of embracing yourself as an individual in any shape or form. Acceleration is a mantra, we’re not a political band, we are freaks and outsiders. It was important to project that message and energy through the artwork of this album. This is free thinking and eternally open-ended music… [The cover] is like an ambassador to the sound.

The cover is ultimately quite fitting with the hard hitting, bombastic sound being wonderfully accompanied by the masochistic relationship depicted, one listen turning you into the sub to Death Grip’s dom.

Outkast – Stankonia

While this cover falls into the cliche of “artist standing in front of background”, Outkast, much like with their music, stand out in quite a subtle way. Presenting Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton , it could easily just be a patriotic cover until you notice American flag is purely black and white, no doubt hinting to the racial tension in the US. Despite being released in 2000, the message is still just as strong now as it was then and it manages to do so without being in your face, unlike Outkast themselves who are so fresh and so clean that they managed to make their mark off Stankonia alone: who says you can’t be funky and socially aware?

Foals – Antidotes

It seems that as rock juggernauts Foals shapeshift and evolve with each new record so to do their covers. Total Life Forever showed the band submerged underwater, no doubt to match the tranquil nature of the record, and Holy Fire having some stern horses that can be easily compared to the strength and beauty of that album. However, love it or hate it, Antidotes has the best cover of the lot with a simply drawn man with a mouth full of vibrant, colourful…things. Much like the behaviour many critics at the time had towards Foals, some calling them off as just another indie rock act, the band knew themselves that their appearance was deceiving as they had something interesting worth saying: thank god we let them.

Liam Menzies

Rewind: Best Of 2014

2014. What a year. It may have the blockbuster nature of 2013 but that’s what made it all the better as new artists that were previously unknown to the masses made a name for themselves with some of the most impressive records in their retrospective genres. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any big names releasing albums this year. If 2013 was a AAA film directed by Tarantino then 2014 was a Zach Braff film with Bill Murray and who could deny the appeal of both of them.
Albums
  1. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End

1996. 5 Californian boys in an alt rock band write what’s been hailed as one of the greatest albums of the 90’s. The band in question is Weezer and for the past decade or so they’ve suffered from the success of Pinkerton. With every new release, fans are expecting a worthy successor to the album and are regularly disappointed but this was all changed with the release of Everything Will Be Alright In The End. Featuring some of the best songs that the band has produced in recent memory, arguably their whole career, EWBAITE is an apology letter to the fans and one that makes it hard not to forgive Rivers Cuomo and co.
  1. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
“I feel sort of weathered and beat down and grown up all of a sudden. I’ve always had some kind of plateau that I wanted to reach, and now I just can’t see the next one.This is how Canadian musician Mac DeMarco felt after his extensive touring that lasted over a year and you can really hear it. Salad Days , recorded in DeMarco’s apartment, is laid back and relaxing, drawing you in with unwinding melodies like Let My Baby Stay and Blue Boy. It’ll be a hard feat to find any other album that can calm and entertain you as much as this psychedelic pop beauty.
  1. Aphex Twin – Syro

2014 wasn’t just the year of the up and coming, as proved by the return of this borderline insane genius. Announcing his return by flying a small blimp over London carrying the trademark Aphex logo, master of ambience Richard D. James came out of nowhere to clinch the bronze with an album full of a sound that is brand spanking new yet quintessentially Aphex Twin. Starting off with what is arguably the best song of the year, Syro manages to captivate its audience from beginning to end with lovely minimalistic piano solo aisatsana [102] delivering an amazing end to an amazing album.

  1. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
Fans of Bombay Bicycle Club can relax knowing that the boys have cemented themselves as one of the best in the current wave of British indie bands with such a tremendous album, infusing everything from synth pop to RnB that transfer to their live performances seamlessly. It’s odd to think how a band could create a record that has every single track bringing something new or tremendous to the table but Bombay Bicycle Club have managed it and from the looks of things, it’s not set to be the last time.
1. Run The Jewels – RTJ2
Hip Hop was a dominating force last year with Drake, Kanye, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and A$AP Rocky just a small slice of what the genre had to offer. However no album last year could prepare you for what Run The Jewels have to offer. You need proof? Take Blockbuster Night Part 1, a song true to its name as Killer Mike and El-P rap over a Godzilla-like beat, rap’s equivalent to the Jaws theme tune. Every track is dark and fresh, I could honestly write page after page on why I love this abum. I’ll save you all the earache and just tell you to go pick up Run The Jewels 2, it’s in a whole fucking league of its own.
4.Sun Kil Moon – Benji
Mark Kolezek, love him or hate him, is undoubtedly one of the best songwriters of all time. And Benji (his 6th record under the Sun Kil Moon moniker) has cemented that claim. Benji isn’t an easy ride, but it’s a vital one. All of the album’s 11 tracks are heartbreakingly sad, from album opener Clarissa (which tells of one of Kolezek’s relatives who died in a freak fire at the age of 25) to closer Ben’s My Friend (Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie being the Ben in question), each and every song paints a vivid picture of a man who doesn’t truly know how to express himself outside of his music. Look past the public beefs and media bullshit and lose yourself in the mind of the 21st century’s finest solo artist.
3. La Roux – Trouble in Paradise
If you’d have told me that the girl who sang Bulletproof would one day write one of my favourite pop albums of all time I would have laughed right in your face, yet here we are. Trouble in Paradise is a pop masterpiece. It’s 9 tracks are nothing short of pop-funk brilliance and I urge anyone and everyone to listen to it as soon as possible if you haven’t. The departure of founding member (and Elly Jackson’s former boyfriend) Ben Langmaid was, at the risk of sounding like a dick, the best thing that could have happened to La Roux from a creative standpoint. It gave Jackson more freedom to experiment with funk, afro-pop and Caribbean sounds, and these influences compliment Jackson’s voice greatly. Songs like Kiss and Not Tell and Sexoteque will instantly put a smile on your face, and remind me of Prince at the height of his powers. In short, this album is absolutely essential.
2. The Xcerts – There is Only You
Ah, the Xcerts. Hailing from my hometown, I couldn’t help but feel a wee twinge of pride when listening to their latest LP “There Is Only You”. This record is an absolute monster. It’s relentlessly catchy (I can say with complete honesty I get at least one song from the album stuck in my head a day, and I’m still not sick of it) but underneath the catchiness lies real lyrical heart. Songs like Pop Song and Kick It, while feverishly memorable, are truly sad at their core. This, from an outsider’s perspective, sounds like the album the Xcerts have always wanted to make. Heavy, poppy, sad, brilliant.
1. Taylor Swift – 1989/The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pick between these two albums. I tried, so hard to make a call and I just couldn’t. They’re both the best albums of the artists’ respective careers and they’re both absolutely stunningly brilliant. Content-wise, however, these albums couldn’t be any more different from each other.
Taylor Swift has perfected the art of the pop song. She’s 100% the best pop star of the 21st century, and she may well end up being the biggest pop star ever. Songs like I Know Places and Blank Space solidify this, some of the best pop songs to come out in YEARS. I could have used any song on the album to make that point thought: from start to finish it is nothing short of pop perfection.
Now onto the Twilight Sad, the polar opposite to Swift’s bubblegum sweetness. The Twilight Sad are gritty, raw. Their songs have no happy endings, and they couldn’t give a fuck. There’s more heart and sadness poured into this album than there is in all the album’s released this year put together. From the devastating Drown So I Can Watch to album closer Sometimes I Wish I Could Fall Asleep and all the songs before and after, you’re grabbed by the throat and taken on a journey. It’s not an easy album to listen to, it’s a harder album to truly enjoy, but it is crucial to listen to.
Favourite albums of 2014:
FKA twigs-LP1
Although Britain can boast about its electronic success stories like James Blake, Jai Paul and Jamie XX, female artists in the genre are few and far between. However this year, Tahliah Debrett Barnett, aka FKA twigs, served the U.K (and the rest of the world) a plate of female electronic goodness with her debut album LP1. The album is an absolute beauty, combining experimental pop, R&B/hip hop beats, and layered whispery vocals to create an original, almost angelic sound. LP1 undoubtedly features the newest sounds I’ve heard in British music in a while and is definitely the coolest, most weirdly seductive release this year.
Favourite track: Give Up
Nicki Minaj-The Pinkprint
Nicki Minaj is easily one of the most hard working women in mainstream hip hop at the moment. Throughout 2014 she created buzz for the follow up to Roman Reloaded, releasing single after single, controversial video after controversial video and presenting the MTV EMAs. After all the hype I was worried that The Pinkprint wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but if anything, it exceeded them. Minaj is no one trick pony. The record is full of variety, going from emotional looks into her past, sultry duets with the likes of Beyonce and Ariana Grande, heart breaking ballads, pop bangers and impressive examples of her sheer rap talent. Trash talking Nicki is old news. The Pinkprint is fierce, fantastic; and makes her numerous skills absolutely undeniable.
Favourite track: Feeling Myself
Warpaint-Warpaint
Warpaint are talented ladies. As impressed as I may have been with their debut “The Fool”, this follow up is so, so much more mature and developed. With production and mixing assistance from the likes of Flood and Nigel Godrich, and a new band line up, it seems Warpaint has truly allowed the girls to find their sound. As the songs were written mostly during jamming sessions the record has a raw, experimental feel to it, and as expected the vocals feature heart stopping harmonies that are hauntingly atmospheric. Alongside the indie dream pop vibes there are also aspects of shoe-gaze, electronic music, and most notably hip hop and R&B which gives the album a feel of originality. It’s a stunning release that can be left on repeat and still somehow manage to leave the listener fascinated.
Favourite track: Biggy
Sonic Highways by Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters’ eighth studio album received mixed reviews but you can’t deny they’ve still got it. The theory behind Sonic Highways- recording each song in a different city- flaunts the creative ideas of the band. Using the influences of each location, each track is distinctive but the classic Foo’s clash of guitars and strong vocals is still recognisable.
Most of the mere 8 songs are on point and carry a punch, making up for the limited length. As a stand-alone album, the music is more important than the concept, but the Sonic Highways documentary provides a deeper insight into the record.
Listen by The Kooks
From the first time hearing Listen, it felt like a world away from The Kooks’ earlier albums. They’ve gone in a completely different direction, experimenting with a variety of ideas. No more indie rock, although the guitars are still there, disguised under layers of funk, tambourines and claps. If you don’t want to sing along then you’re not listening properly. Each track is individual, standing out from the others, making their fourth album the most diverse one yet. Their older fans may not like the big change but some may be pleasantly surprised by this fun, upbeat release.
There Is Only You by The Xcerts
You can’t help but keep coming back to this album. The Xcerts put so much passion into their music and There Is Only You is no different. Blending rock with a small amount of pop, they’ve found the perfect balance of not-too-heavy but still rough enough. Even from the first listen, the songs leap out and don’t all mix into one. Catchy? Definitely. And the elegant title track is an unusual but beautiful finish. Touring recently with fellow Scottish band Twin Atlantic helped to boost their popularity along with this energy-filled album.
Royal Blood by Royal Blood
You only need to listen to this to see why Royal Blood have become so popular in such a short space of time. This self-titled debut has propelled their career- going from small shows to supporting Foo Fighters next year. It’s incredible how full and heavy the sound is for just bass and drums. Every song is epic in its own way, whether it’s for the pounding drum beat or the killer riffs. This album is filled to the brim with energy and it would be amazing to see them play live for it to come to life.

Big love, Liam x

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Robyn & La Bagatelle Magicque – Love Is Free track review

Best of July #1

As much as I’m called a hipster by my friends, I’d be straight up lying if I said I knew of La Bagatelle Magicque before I came across this snazzy dance tune earlier this week. Although at first glance it might sound like La Bagatelle Magicque is some sort of obscure folk band a la Bon Iver, it’s in fact a music project fronted by none other than Robyn a.k.a that lassie who sang Dancing On Her and With Every Heartbeat. The group also comprises of keyboardist Markus Jägerstedt as well as the producer Christian Falk who sadly passed away last year.

Despite this sad news, La Bagatelle Magicque have overcame these troubles in order to manage to deliver a positive sound with their music that perfectly fits the summer release date they’re aiming for. It’s impossible to listen to Love Is Free without drawing a few comparisons, first and probably the most blatant one being Disclosure. The looping line that’s taken from the title of the song is reminiscent of Shake That though this is hardly a bad thing.

It would be a sin to review this track without giving praise to the lady herself Robyn who’s sweet yet promiscuous voice goes hand in hand with the lyrics she delivers over bouncy hip hop beats. “Safe like a rubber” is iterated over a squeaking synth that on paper may sound annoying but is weirdly pleasing to the ears.

A song which manages to trump the melancholic production it had, Love Is Free is an upbeat tune which is destined to be a club anthem in no time. Won’t be long now till Limmy starts talking about this song being the sound of the summer rather than Get Lucky.

Listen to it here!

Liam Menzies
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Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

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It’s odd to think that five years ago “I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose” was released and made music lovers aware of four boys who were not just an alternative to the Arctic Monkeys who dominated the indie rock scene at the time but were an act that had a lot of potential to make it big in the genre. With the help of “So Long, See You Tomorrow”, the band have not only utilised their potential but have made the transition from polite and shy newcomers to a band that radiating with confidence and stylish flare.

 

Bombay Bicycle Club are not a band that sticks to the one sound (their back catalogue consists of blues, folk and pop) so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this album isn’t an exception to this trend. Home By Now is an RnB infused track with a layer of extravagant vocals from lead singer Jack Steadman, who’s travels abroad have been a factor in helping the band to find a sound that is worth sticking to, and provides a stellar vocal performance throughout this record.If you think that RnB is an odd sound for BBC to be sampling then just wait around for a few tracks and you’ll come across Feel, a track that’s intro wouldn’t go amiss in a Bollywood film, that sounds as strange as it does brilliant.

 

Despite all the new tweaks to their ever changing music formula, BBC have more success with tracks that have a subtle pop sound to them. Take for example the first single off the album Carry Me that features a massive sing-along chorus that will be sure to make an appearance during the band’s upcoming tour and any upcoming that the band, hopefully, will be attending. Luna also shares these same traits, propelled by female vocals and a relaxed beat that help to make it one of the best tracks on offer.


Whilst we all wait apprehensively for Steadman to don a quiff and leather jacket (we’ve all seen what confidence can do to a frontman), fans of the band can relax knowing that the boys have cemented themselves as one of the best in the current wave of British indie bands.