BBC break 6 year break between releases with a nostalgia-inducing listen for Millennials.
The chimes of “guitar music is dead” rang ever louder as the 2010’s rolled on. If one looks at the chart that still has a truth to it however claims of its ‘death’ are hugely over stated. Punk is seeing a revival on both sides of the Atlantic in the face of adverse political environments to those of an open and liberal mindset. It is interesting more broadly to see punk approaches and attitudes infusing other genres as well.
Today [written on release day] we see releases from both Bombay Bicycle Club and The Courteeners. These two bands were at best second tier – more likely third – during the naughties indie revival that either later came of age or faded away. For those who enjoy Jack Steadman’s distinctive warble over BBCs folk-rooted indie rock sound this latest release is a solid return to the spotlight. I myself have wavered on them over the years however this release is for me the most enjoyable since their debut.
Eat Sleep Wake (Nothing But You), Racing Stripes, I Can Hardly Speak, Is it Real? and the title track were released periodically in the run up to the release of the full record. Each one demonstrating something different form the BBC arsenal. Eat Sleep Wake is maybe the most traditionally BBC sounding track of those released. The others show an evolutionary fleshing out of their initially jangly sound with dynamic song construction, creative instrumentation and solid production. This is a bunch of qualities that carry over into the album tracks too to bolster it as an assured statement and confident return after a prolonged absence.
Highlights from the pile of pre-released tracks (none were released as singles) for me are the I Can Hardly Speak which has reverential echoes of MGMTs debut record; the pacy and busy Is It Real and the somewhat resigned tones of the title track. It is hard to pick from them as they are a strong set. Away from the singles the Liz Lawrence collaboration is a charming change of sonic palette that serves to amplify the tracks around it. Do You Feel Loved could easily be another single had they not released five tracks outside the record.
Everything Else Has Gone Wrong has an average much higher than most records of its type and a consistency that runs throughout. It is also one that if they were not already a known entity that you could see bringing them a great deal of acclaim and success. This is an important marker for me when assessing an album to look at. I won’t often mention it but whether an album could stand alone without the context of the artist’s prior success is an interesting aspect to consider. Sometimes works are good but require the prior context and that is fine. This record from Bombay Bicycle Club fits in both camps. It stands on its own feet – arguably more confidently than any of their prior records – but is enhanced from knowing where they had been up to this point.
Now what about another Flaws style album? – that was magical!
Highlights: I Can Hardly Speak, Get Up, Is it Real, Do You Feel Loved