Photo: Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Bombay Bicycle Club Return with a Wake-Up Call

British indie pop-rockers, Bombay Bicycle Club chronicle the struggle to maintain hope in dark times on Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, their first album since 2014.

Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
Bombay Bicycle Club
Caroline / Island
17 January 2020

Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, the comeback album by British indie pop-rock band Bombay Bicycle Club, might be 2020’s first great “early morning listening” album. The album is a warm collection of songs with lyrics that focus on finding hope in a sometimes dark world. The songs, built on beds of electronics and electric guitars, rock gently, but they do, in fact, rock. Everything Else Has Gone Wrong even opens with a short, swirling track called “Get Up”. How much more of a wake-up call do you need?

The mere existence of a new Bombay Bicycle Club album might have been surprising, up until about one year ago. Formed when members Jack Steadman, Jamie MacColl, Suren de Saram, and Ed Nash were on the younger side of being teenagers, way back in 2005, Bombay Bicycle Club won a popular British battle of the bands competition, which eventually led to the release of their debut album, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose in 2009.

Bombay Bicycle Club released three other well-received and musically varied albums through to 2014, at which point the band announced they were taking an indefinite hiatus. Bombay Bicycle Club emerged from their break in 2019, celebrating the tenth anniversary of their debut album, and gradually teasing songs that have found a home on Everything Else Has Gone Wrong.

Musically, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong finds Bombay Bicycle Club fitting in nicely with contemporaneous bands from Wilco to Editors to Vampire Weekend, among others. Whether intentional or not, influences from earlier pop bands peek through as well. Brief bits of “Is It Real”, for example, might remind certain listeners of both A Flock of Seagulls and ABBA.

Two of the songs debuted last year are among the best tracks on the album. The title song is a statement of purpose for both the band as a whole and for Steadman particularly, who repeats the lyric, “I guess I’ve found my peace again, and yes, I’ve found my second wind”, until it becomes a mantra for both himself and the listener. “Keep the stereo on, everything else has gone wrong,” Steadman notes, indicating that music might be the thing that saves him, and maybe all of us.

“Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)”, another album highlight, was the first song to debut last year. While simply reading the lyrics could lead one to think that “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)” is one of those deceptively creepy songs, the luminous music suggests a more innocent longing, with “awkward hearts beating faster and faster”. “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)” seems closer to the spirit of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place” than it does the Police’s “Every Breath You Take”.

Throughout Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, the buoyancy of the music balances the darker sentiments of the lyrics. “Worry Bout You” finds Steadman fretting over someone who is lost, but the lilting music implies that there is hope for the lost soul in question. On “Good Day”, another toe-tapper, Steadman muses that he would quit his job if he had a job, and then notes that “I just want to have a good day / And it’s only me that’s standing in my way.”

The struggle to maintain hope extends to the album’s last track, “Racing Stripes”. Steadman ends the hymn-like song by repeating another mantra: “This light will keep me going / And I don’t even know wherever I may go / This light will keep me going.”

Getting up and getting on with one’s life each day can be tough, but maybe a little music can help. If so, Bombay Bicycle Club is well-equipped to help with Everything Else Has Gone Wrong.

RATING 8 / 10

Publish with PopMatters

Call for Papers: All Things Reconsidered [MUSIC] May-August 2024

PopMatters Seeks Book Critics and Essayists

Call for Papers: All Things Reconsidered – FILM Winter 2023-24

Submit an Essay, Review, Interview, or List to PopMatters

PopMatters Seeks Music Writers