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The Bombay Bicycle Club formed in Crouch End, London sometime in 2005. Their debut album I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose was originally released in July 2009. The title of the album is a line from a song called After Hours by the American hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest.
Personnel: Jack Steadman (Vocals/Guitar). Jamie MacColl (Guitar). Ed Nash (Bass). Suren de Saram (Drums).
So far the band has released 5 singles and 2 EP's. Their music has been compared to Television (probably because Steadman's vocal style is similar to Tom Verlaine's) and Blur. They first started a band together at the age of 15, calling themselves The Canals. In fact they only finished their full time education in 2008.
My thoughts on the album...
1/ Emergency Contraception: This is an instrumental that leads into the next track. It's just over a minute long and gets the album off to a good start.
2/ Lamplight: Jack Steadman's hugely distinctive vocals combined with a wonderfully catchy riff enables this track to move along with a confidence and a swagger that defies the Bombay boys' youth.
3/ Evening/Morning: This was the band's first ever single release in 2006. It kicks off with an addictive bass turn from Ed Nash. "I am ready to owe you everything" sings Steadman. The video features the aforementioned dressed as a panda.
4/ Dust On The Ground: This is the song that first got me interested in The Bombay Bicycle Club. Jamie MacColl's guitar sounds beautiful and dramatic. It's very Arcade Fire-ish.
5/ Ghost: It's got a great hook and the last third reminds me of hot summer days when I was a teenager for some reason. It's a song about a relationship which probably didn't work out. "I walk in the room and see you walzing around. The love that you give is such a familiar sound" sings Steadman in his wonderfully distinctive voice.
6/ Always Like This: Another song about love. Hugely catchy but a basic guitar riff from Steadman judging by the video and wonderful percussion by Surem de Sarem. It's a feel good song.
7/ Magnet: Terrific hook on this track with the opening line, "Now it's decision time. Which one will stay, which one will say goodbye?" I really like this. Great harmonies, Steadman's vocals add something extra. It's like having another instrument. The last 40 seconds or so evolve into a dub stylee.
8/ Cancel On Me: Obviously a song about a broken date. It sounds as though Jack forgives her though! Cancel On Me makes you feel really good and inspired. One of the album's best moments of which there are many.
9/ Autumn: This track is based around Ed Nash's bass guitar. It's a song about reflection. Steadman sings, "There's never time to say what I really had in mind". Very uplifting indeed.
10/ The Hill: "Let's go outside and rise to the meaning of life", a very inspiring line. Another song that makes you feel good. The Bombays just keep on going up the hill, not down.
11/ What If: Sticks to the same formula as the previous couple of tracks. Another mature and polished composition from a band with so much potential.
12/ The Giantess: The album's closing track is acoustic and somewhat folky. It's the same tune as Emergency Contraception, the opening track.
I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose is a very strong debut indeed. Musically and lyrically it's very mature and confident. It's hardly surprising that the band won the Best New Band award in the NME awards in 2009. The album was produced by Jim Abbiss.
I have to admit that the first few times I heard Bombay Bicycle Club both on radio and on TV, I wasn't quite sure what to make of them. Jack Steadman's voice can get annoying at times but the jaunty indie tunes behind it are both strong and catchy. It was when I heard the latest single, Evening/Morning, that I truly saw the depth to their music and opted to purchase the album, "I had the blues but I shook them loose."
I don't intend to break every single track down in this review but I will summarise the album and can honestly say its a good buy. For some reason it still seems quite expensive to buy (nearly £13 on Amazon at the moment) so it is worth shopping around for. That being said, the album opens beautifully with the stirring instrumental Emergency Contraception Blues and I found that I was hooked from that moment on. The previously mentioned Evening/Morning is an excellent stand out track as is Always Like This which builds effortlessly to a crescendo before returning you back to earth.
I can genuinely say that this is a real gem of an album and will keep you coming back for more. Why the price hasn't dropped yet so that I wider audience can appreciate it though I don't know.
I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose is the stunningly mature debut album from Bombay Bicycle Club, containing songs from their earlier EP's and singles- Evening/Morning (single from 4 August 2008), Always Like This (single from 13 April 2009), Dust on the Ground (single and EP from 29 June 2009), Cancel On Me (from 12 February 2007 EP, The Boy I Used to Be) and Ghost (from 29 October 2007 EP How We Are) as well as 6 new, delightful songs.
Released on 6 July 2009, by young indie rock foursome from North London, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose makes for a very unique and enjoyable 70 minutes. On 16 May 2007, NME published an article naming Bombay Bicycle Club "the hottest band to come from North London for quite some time". And so right they are.
Despite not attracting much attention from the masses (probably best anyway) many of the songs on the album are catchy once you give then a good listen, perhaps more so of Always Like This, Evening/Morning and Dust on the Ground than any others.
Track by Track:
1) Emergency Contraception Blues is the instrumental interlude, which admittedly is a bit annoying until you get to know it.
2) Lamplight is beautifully written, catchy and a shows the group have a lot of potenital.
3) Evening/Morning is even better, lines such as "I'm ready to owe you anything" embodies the loveless-teen spirit perfectly. Despite it's sunstanard name, the song is definately noteworthy and reminds me of Interpol. Which is a good thing.
4) Dust on the Ground turns out to be splendidly catchy and works really well with Steadman's captivating voice which sounds strikingly effortless and unassuming.
5) Ghost has one catchy line, "my ever-changing ghost" but unfotunately, it's sung over and over again and there's not much more to the song :(
6) Always Like This has beautiful wavering vocals and is possibly the most easily accessible of all the songs on the album.
7) Magnet is a decent song. Not their best, but a worthy album track
8) Cancel on Me grows on you but again, not their best.
9) Autumn is captivating, it really makes you want to listen to the lyrics. The tune is not bad, either.
10) The Hill is a another one which I really like the lyrics. It's about youth slipping away, trying to recapture something that cannot be found again. It repeats itself which I think signifies regret.
11) What If is really easy to listen to, it's upbeat yet dreamy, leading well into the next song.
12) The Giantess is much slower and calmer than the rest. It's acoustic and beautifully, delicately plucked.
In summation, lead singer Jack Steadman's voice is very dinstictive and brilliant. Some really genious riffs. Sounds ranging from full on rock to haunting acoustics. A definite buy.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Emergency Contraception Blues
3 Evening / Morning
4 Dust On The Ground
6 Always Like This
8 Cancel On Me
10 The Hill
11 What If
12 The Giantess