Bombay Bicycle Club: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong (Mmm.../Caroline International/Island) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, July 12th, 2020  

Bombay Bicycle Club

Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

Mmm.../Caroline International/Island

Jan 24, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


An ingratiating warmth washes over, and at times threatens to smother, Bombay Bicycle Club's fifth albumthe band's first since their loosely-defined hiatus from 2016 to 2018. The English four-piece took a surprisingly adventurous path to indie-rock fame in their first spell, evolving from spiky post-Arctic Monkeys rock to lush-indie pop over their first three albums. Their fourth, 2014's So Long, See You Tomorrow, bounded forward in all directionswith more pop hooks and more conspicuous experiments. In comparison, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong makes no equivalent leaps. Instead, it serves as a gentle re-acquaintance with one of the most underappreciated groups in modern British indie.

Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is ostensibly a record about finding peace within the chaotic hellscape of the modern worldwhich is a generous way of saying it isn't about very much at all. There is a sense of disquiet lurking in frontman Jack Steadman's lyrics-he has been living in the same post-Brexit Britain as everyone else after allbut it is often hard to pinpoint exactly what is bugging him. Steadman's writing has tended to rely on evocation rather than description and he tests the limits of vague lyricism here. "Is it real? I wanna go back/Times have all changed and I don't want that," he muses over nothing in particular on the record's second track, "Is It Real." 

Yet, where Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is sometimes thematically unsubstantial, it is also instrumentally rich. Bombay Bicycle Club pull elements from across their discography on this recordbar their folky excursion on 2010's Flaws. "Is It Real" employs the propulsive thrust of their debut, while the "world music" flourishes and electronic touches of their later albums enliven "I Worry Bout You" and "Do You Feel Loved?" Although the writing on Everything Else Has Gone Wrong can feel skeletal in moments, its production is consistently bright and inventive, embellishing these tracks with lush textures. 

The album's most robust songs are its two muscular lead singles"Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)" and the title trackwhich display a surprising confidence. Both obliquely reference creative struggles, yet the band's writing has rarely had such steadfast forward motion or felt so clear-sighted and purposeful. "Racing Stripes," the album's stark closer, which plays out like a cuddly sibling of Radiohead's "Motion Picture Soundtrack," also offers an encouraging expansion of the band's emotional range. It points towards a braver future if this is the first of many records this decade.

Bombay Bicycle Club are still an accomplished purveyor of centrist indie; a consummate crowd-pleaser with enough of an ear for flair and detail to avoid the landfill. And for fans seeking a collection of breezy festival anthems, this return gladly rises to the challenge. Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is a sharp and charming indie rock album that is at times ever so slightly too safe for its own good. Bombay Bicycle Club remains eager to please-it's a relief then that they still know how to do it. (www.bombaybicycle.club)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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