Inspirations can come at any time and any place. Sometimes these inspirations lead to great ideas. Most often, they lead to ideas that might seem great at first, but slowly degrades into something else. Welcome to my review of two release of albums from bands that are looking to take the next step in their respective careers.
English band Bombay Bicycle Club has had a rather popular run in England on the strength of their first two albums – Flaws and I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. Both albums took elements from both folk and rock to create a space that sounded both sincere and raw. Their stateside popularity has been surprisingly meager, but I suspect it is because they came into popularity around the same time as two other “club” bands – Tokyo Police Club and Two Door Cinema Club. Perhaps the indie kids just couldn’t handle all these club bands at the same time. Perhaps it was this lack of recognition that forced the UK band to lean more towards the rock side of things with their new album – A Different Kind of Fix. Released on Monday, the bands third album aims to take the band into a more electric guitar based direction which will hopefully direct them into uncharted popularity territory.
While England’s BBC took a more slower approach to success, The Drums just blasted to the top of the indie band du jour pyramid last year with their self titled debut. Drenched in 80s new wave nostalgia, the album charted extremely well and songs such as Let’s Go Surfing and Me and the Moon made it’s way into the hearts of indie music fans everywhere. The bands second album, Portamento is released a mere 14 months after their self titled debut and hopes to build upon the success of the original and further cement the American band’s status as the go to band for mopey guitar songs.
So why review these two albums together, you ask? Well, they were both in my inbox and both looked interesting. Somehow I decided it would be a good idea to put them into one playlist, press shuffle and guess who sang what. It seemed like it would become a nice unbiased review of the material, but it didn’t work out that way.
Here is what notes I had.
Puts on playlist
Song #1: I know this song is by Bombay Bicycle Club, because I accidently took a peek. It could pass for The Drums too I guess, it’s got those gentle 80s retro Cure-esque guitar riffs. It’s pretty catchy and the chorus has a nice melody. I guess this song is called Book of Revelations
Song #2: This song is definitely by Bombay Bicycle Club, the’s pace is too slow. “Put all your worries off” doesn’t sound like something The Drums would sing. This track is actually quite pleasant and some nice synthesizer sequences to it. The coda for this song has a very trimphant feel to it, although I think it would benefit from some strings. What song wouldn’t benefit from strings though? This is definitely a track that can close out a show. All English bands seem to have one song with a rousing ending, I wonder if it’s a part of the manifest.
Guess: Bombay Bicycle Club
Fact: Bombay Bicycle Club – Favorite Day
Song #3: I guess the lead singer from the two bands have different voices, as Jonathan Pierce has a slightly higher pitched voice than the dude from the other band. Musically, this track is a quintessential Drums song, it has that 80′s romanticized guitar riff, personal lyrics (“I’ll never hate you/but you’re hard to love”) about the singers lover or best friend or spurned love. Say what you will about The Drums coping other people’s sounds, they make really catchy pop tracks and this song is one of them.
Guess: The Drums
Fact: The Drums – Hard to Love
Song #4: Song 4 starts on almost the exact drum beat and guitar riff as song 3, so this is probably the Drums. I am starting to think that this dual review is going to go nowhere since I now know the two bands have distinctly different voices. I am guessing this song is called “Please Don’t Leave”. This song also has the whole “repeating some words with increasing frequency” trick that they already used on the last song. Less catchy and more whiny than the last track.
Guess: The Drums – Please Don’t Leave
Fact: The Drums – Please Don’t Leave
Song #5: Definitely Bombay Bicycle Club track. Although when they sing in falsetto, it makes me think it is a Drums track. Actually, I’m not sure anymore. This might be a restrained Jonathan Pierce singing. I’m going to say this is Drums song now, based on the lyrics “You came along..I gave you my home”. This guy should write dialogue for Gilmour Girls or something. The lyrics from this album seem to be quite personal and about two minutes in the track has descended into the same guitar riff that the band used in the previous two songs. I wonder if this is a concept album built around two main riffs. Jonathan Pierce’s “Huuuuh Oh Huuuuh Oh uh-huuuuuuuuuh” is the new Brett Anderson “lalalalala” it seems. He has done it almost every song so far.
Guess: Bombay Bicycle Club, then the Drums
Fact: The Drums – What You Were
Song #6: The Drums once again, based once again on Jonathan’s use of “Huuuuh Oh Huuuuh Oh uh-huuuuuuuuuh” only this time he adds “dolululululu” at the end. Can’t trick me, my friend.
Guess: The Drums – Do lu lu lu lu lu lu
Fact: The Drums – If He Likes It Let Him Do it
Song #7: Definitely a Bombay Bicycle Club song, Jack Steadman’s voice is quite different than Jonathan Pierce’s. This track also does not sound like an 80s love song. I like the usage of strings (although it might be synthesizer based).. The track has a serious confessional rock feel to it, but I can’t really make out what he’s saying, despite the crystal clear vocals. I guess I’m just not good at picking up accents. It’s a nice break from hearing three songs in a row with the same chords though.
Fact: Bombay Bicycle Club – Bad Thing
At this point, I realized that
a) This article is too long
b) This is kind of lame
c) I need to get back to work
So I put an end to it.
Is this a review? I don’t know. What I do know is that The Drums new record is catchy, but relies on the same tricks as the first record and the new Bombay Bicycle Club record ditches the acoustic songs of the previous album, leans towards louder and harder compositions but retains the same essence that made the band a hit in England.
Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix is in stores now
The Drums – Portamento is in stores September 12
Bombay Bicycle Club – Shuffle