And that expectation was because there aren't many bands active this decade that have as consistent a track record as Bombay Bicycle Club
. With four albums released over five years between ’09 and ’14 they wove themselves into the patchwork of UK Indie. Their secret weapon: each record was just the right balance of hooky pop sensibilities but with enough depth to keep you going back. This is evident within tracks such as “What If” with its spikey chord progression, the looping off-kilter piano on “Shuffle”, the Bollywood sample on “Feel”. All three tracks manage to be both musically intriguing, and radio playlist material. Never letting their respective quirks be too much of a 'thing'; sonic exploration was always in the service of the track. And it always led to great records.
Their sound evolved at an even pace, always balancing retaining past strengths and moving forward with new ideas. If you were never a fan, they probably never changed enough to beckon you in. But if you grew up with them, there was a Harry Potter-esque feeling of the band growing up as you did. It therefore felt like the end of an era in indie when they announced their hiatus in the middle of our decade just gone. They didn't entirely depart - Jack Steadman continued with Mr Jukes
(interesting, but with fewer hooks), Ed Nash with Toothless
(plenty of hooks, but not as interesting). Neither quite reached the heady heights of what they achieved as a whole. So now, with their relaunch, it is exciting to see whether they can return to past form.
Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is a good album. It exhibits many qualities of past BBC records. Title track and second single “Everything Else Has Gone Wrong” is a definite highlight. The bass leads the track, whilst Steadman balances the melancholic with the uplifting, singing 'Keep the stereo on, everything else has gone wrong'. It's nice. It's like old times. I'm back at Reading festival in 2014.
Which is the problem: it's just a bit too safe. It's all a bit too safe. Nothing feels unexpected. Nothing feels like a step forward. Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is lodged sonically somewhere between the sound of the last two albums, but lacking the freshness both possessed at the time. Which is unsurprising seeing as those records are now more than half a decade old. The melodies are not quite as catchy. The arrangements are not quite as rousing. The energy just a little bit flat.
It's not that Everything Else Has Gone Wrong isn't a solid BBC record. It has plenty of what made them great. “I Worry About You” has some lovely moments outside of the main verse. BBC are very good at closing tracks and “Racing Stripes” does not change that. But is it as good as “Still”, “So Long, See You Tomorrow” or “Swansea”? No. Close, but not quite.
If you are a fan of everything that came before, you'll still enjoy this record. But you'll probably end up listening to the old ones, and enjoying them more. Because BBC at their best are better than this. This is a band who transition from “Take The Right One” into “Shuffle” into “Beggars”. Whose output consistently got better the second they stood on the stage as schoolboys who has just won Road to V. And their return should be celebrated for exactly this reason: they have in them more than these good-but-not-great songs, and I look forward to hearing them on the record after this one.