During one’s formative years, it sometimes takes awhile to know and understand “the self.” Most go through fads and phases growing up (and those who say otherwise are almost certainly liars) before finally growing into a persona and identity to be proud of. Sure, it takes some time before this person is discovered, but at that moment, everything seems to click. The same can be said of musicians-between arduous tour schedules and album releases, an artist might not find his voice until quite some time down the road. Once they do, however, magic happens.
This is the narrative that best describes the British indie outfit Bombay Bicycle Club, particularly regarding its latest release, So Long See You Tomorrow. After three albums released in three years since 2009, it appears the band has finally found a voice and style worth preserving. The record shows a band continuing to experiment with its sound, with So Long See You Tomorrow undoubtedly being Bombay Bicycle Club’s most adventurous LP release to date. Penned primarily by vocalist and producer Jack Steadman during his travels to India, Japan, and beyond, it would appear that Steadman’s travels have done more than enough for the making of a new and improved incarnation of the band.
In what can be best described as a blend between the passion of Arcade Fire’s Funeral, the instrumental psychedelia of Magical Mystery Tour, and the lyrical themes of Tame Impala’s Lonerism, So Long See You Tomorrow is a beautifully produced record that finds an ideal blend between easy listening and anthemic rock. And yet, even that description doesn’t do this record justice-Bombay Bicycle Club’s fourth full-length release is filled to the brim with instruments and electronic sounds that are perpetually vying for the listener’s attention. Despite cosmopolitan influences, smooth beats, and dynamic production at the forefront of the record, it is Steadman’s delicate vocals that steal the show. Granted, Bombay Bicycle Club has done well enough on this album that the instrumentals could stand on its own, but Steadman’s voice meshes extraordinarily well with the Bollywood-inspired instrumentals that adorn the album, adding an extra layer of sound that propels So Long See You Tomorrow from merely a good record to the status of being a great record. So Long See You Tomorrow shines brightest when Steadman’s vocals are complemented in duet by the crisp voice talents of Rae Morris and Lucy Rose in “Luna” and “It’s Alright Now.” The latter of these two songs perhaps best encapsulates So Long See You Tomorrow as a whole: it’s a catchy, anthemic tune with a carnival-like atmosphere, offbeat percussion, and Middle Eastern music samples that altogether sound like it shouldn’t cause the listener ear worm, but ultimately does.
Generally speaking, Bombay Bicycle Club delivered an album that, while a far cry from the styling found in the rest of its discography, is a welcome change of direction for this indie outfit across the pond. This is not to say that So Long See You Tomorrow is a perfect record -there are stretches of music that feel fragmented, made more noticeable by its lengthy 45-minute running time. Still, this is an album that grows on you and may warrant a few additional listens to fully appreciate the work put into it.