Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Different Kind Of Fix

Artist: Bombay Bicycle Club
Album: A Different Kind of Fix
Release Date: 26/8/2011

In attempting to match their ambition with their sonic ability, Bombay Bicycle Club have created 2011's most unusually fixating guitar album

Is indie music in decline? A large proportion of the blogosphere seems to think so. With no real "heroes" of the indie rock 'n' roll scene since the demise of The Libertines and the emergence of the Arctic Monkeys, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that on their third album, London romantics Bombay Bicycle Club seem to have, in some respects at least, tried to distance themselves from the trundling guitar- rock of their debut, 2009's "I Had the Blue but I Shook Them Loose." On 2010's "Flaws" they branched out into a beautiful whim of acoustics and Joanna Newsom adoration, which based itself primarily around six- stringed instruments but in a completely different way. On "A Different Kind of Fix" guitars are still an imperative ingredient, however so is, it seems, front man Jack Steadman's love of dance music and a glitchy cut 'n' paste loop machine. It's a scrapbook indie album, shinier and cleaner than the indie rock 'n' roll generation, and more a blossoming platform for BBC to try and convey all their ambition.

Opener "How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep?" begins in an electronic haze and glistening guitar- picking, before it proceeds into something that wouldn't have seemed out of place on "I Had the Blues...", only it's more complex, better orchestrated and as a result, much more powerful. "Your Eyes" is built around a looped rockabilly- esque riff which is one of the most infectious things the band have done to date, accompanied by Steadman's luring and lovelorn poetry, which comes into its fore here as he sings "I'm done with love/ It's not the thing I'm dreaming of."

"Take The Right One" is covered in a mysterious lo- fi fog, and along with the thick haze and late '80s clean- cut riffing is reminiscent of The Stone Roses' debut. "Shuffle" is inherently this album's "Always like This." Built around a looped and infectious to the point of being near- annoying piano riff and shuffling, danceable drums signal it as a song that was always destined for radio one adoration, and considering all the fans singing along to it at this summer's festivals before it was even out, it's destined to be their defining moment of 2011, whether it deserves to be or not.

The primary problem with "A Different Kind of Fix" (and it's only a small one mind) is that it's not a total re- invention. Songs like "Bad Timing" and "Beggars", whilst pleasant enough, do nothing to uphold the power encompassed in some of the album's finer moments. But in pulling everything together through a shared love of loops and technology, Bombay Bicycle Club have most certainly created a different kind of fix; it works on what is occasionally a sensational level, and it portrays the full ambition that the band hinted at previously but never really hit on. They're yearning for a more intelligent sonic path for guitar music- three albums in and their well on their way to finding it.

Download: 1) "Your Eyes", 2) "Favourite Day", 3) "Take The Right One"
For Fans of: The Stone Roses, The Maccabees, The Smiths


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