-->
Music

Bombay Bicycle Club: A Different Kind of Fix

Matt Edsall

After 2010's acoustic-centered, Flaws, Bombay Bicycle Club return with another fantastic follow-up that threads the dance-pop of Passion Pit with the ambient intonations of Interpol.


Bombay Bicycle Club

A Different Kind of Fix

Label: Universal / Island
US Release Date: 2011-09-06
UK Release Date: 2011-08-29
Amazon
iTunes

The title of Bombay Bicycle Club’s 2010 album, Flaws, is half-ironic, yet also half-true. On one hand, it disembarks (for the better) from the pop of 2009’s debut, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, diving deep into the singer-songwriter vein of M. Ward and Conor Oberst with primarily all-acoustic tracks. This proved upon its release last year that the college-aged quartet weren’t just four boys who knew how to write catchy dance beats, but grown men who knew how to write compelling and emotive songs. At an age when none of them could even legally buy a drink in America, Bombay Bicycle Club were no longer just an English pop group chasing sounds for the next car commercial; they were a band on the verge of breaking down barriers within the English rock scene.

Yet now that their third album has arrived, BBC’s work a mere year and a half ago has already lost its place as their finest achievement. A Different Kind of Fix makes Flaws’ title seem like a psychic premonition of its legacy within the band’s discography. This time around, listeners will lap up the stellar production these guys unfold as they extend their reach for taller heights and newer possibilities. On the first track, “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep", guitarists Jack Steadman and Jamie MacColl enter with a layered melody that builds like the cold opening of a TV show drama, enticing us with both excitement and worry while equally begging the question: Where the hell is this going? And then BAM! Drummer Suren de Saram kicks in with the intensity of Walter White staring down a line of police cars with a loaded weapon, and it’s at this one-minute mark that all concern of a commercial ploy flies out the window. “Can I wake you up/ Is it late enough?” Steadman cries in his Jim James-like croon, and with what BBC has in store for the next twelve songs, you wouldn’t give a shit if he dumped a bucket of cold water over your head along with it.

When Bombay released the single “Shuffle” one day prior to A Different Kind of Fix’s release date, fans were treated to a free sample of the band’s newest endeavour: laid-back Passion Pit piano-pop with a lick of Foals’ hazy rock, and though it was no doubt a band stretching themselves, there was also no denying it still fit the mould of Bombay’s earlier M.O. to build songs they could sell to the masses. But with how seamlessly the album's tracks move one into the next, “Shuffle” doesn't come off as intentionally commercial, but rather a case of being the most radio-friendly song for the band to choose at the end of recording. There's an onslaught from which BBC could choose: the Interpol-like “Bad Timing", the folk-acoustica “Beggars” that eventually takes off with a bass line akin to early Cure, or even the chillwave dance track, "Lights Out, Words Gone". With such an eclectic grouping of songs but a thread of ambient tones weaved throughout all 13 tracks, A Different Kind of Fix takes derivatives from the band's native peers, strips them to the core, and rebuilds them as the 2011 model of British alt-rock.

On the final track, "Begs", Steadman wheezes into the mic, “I beg you / Come/ Say you need it now,” and he sounds like a man devoid of all esteem and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. However, considering how worn down this record already is from my initial listen a week ago, I'd love to just pat the frontman on the back and tell him he's succeeded admirably. You can relax, I'd say.

But I guess this review will have to suffice.

8
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image