Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix

written by: December 6, 2011
Release Date: August 26th, 2011


Backward and forward and now, somewhere in between. Bombay Bicycle Club’s first album, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose was an upbeat work of sonic punk; its second was a glacial folk record. Now, at last, the band has settled into a sound incorporating both. Lest this speak too much to their credit, know that it’s still incredibly difficult to know who the Londoners are on A Different Kind of Fix.

The band members themselves have admitted they’re still finding a color scheme, still inhabiting a niche. This effort is chutes and ladders above Flaws but still a stepping stone on the group’s way to self-discovery. A Different Kind of Fix is enjoyable, dreamy and lucid, with the nonsensical playfulness of Talking Heads, scraping balladry of Deerhunter, and even manages at times to sound like classic British Isles pop a la (pardon the expression) U2. Jack Steadman and Co. have never been shy of owning up to their influences.

But before drinking to the rejuvenation of a wayward outfit into a formidable indie force or basking in the sunshiny vibe of its latest—take a closer look. For one, the lyricism is entirely forgettable. It works as that typical sort of sleeve-hearted indie: blurry, repetitive, with melody made for words rather than vice versa. The band could stand to learn a lesson in the pregnant pause—wordplay and accompaniment. That’s OK, though. Not only is this lyrical palaver the mode of the day, if it did call attention to itself, the result would only be disappointing. It’s hard to imagine A Different Kind of Fix being a sing-along.

There are, as might be expected, syncopated and textured rhythms (The “Daylight”esque “Shuffle”), spacey vocals and an earnest romantic sentiment. “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” kicks off with ultra-clangy, clean electric riffing with the words, “Is it late enough/Can I wake you up?” incanted over and over in various arrangements. Their folk scales sound like a blend of traditional British and Americana, filled with a grating melancholia. It doesn’t often drag, though.

At times, they let slip the dogs of punk, the twangy thwomp of the chorus in “Bad Timing,” and what ensues is loud, ungated goodness that seems more genuine than the bulk of the record. Bombay Bicycle Club is still a young band and what seems naïve to those more seasoned may actually be a childlike directness, a youthful do-or-die attitude. And what’s not to love about that from its youthful do-or-die audience?

With A Different Kind of Fix the gaunt Londoners have survived the sophomore slump and at least bought themselves some time before judgment.

It is indeed an uncustomary fix. From the iconic Gil-Sans cover font to the vintage shine of their production—dig through the topsoil and there are some gems by any standard—some instances, some songs. For instance, there’s that absolutely haunting ballad for voice and piano, “Still,” whimpering as a benediction. The potential for BBC is huge, success as we’ve seen carved out by the likes of Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling and other poppy, folksy, rocky bands (these are the only adjectives to blanket that list) from the United Kingdom. The weather vane is on their side, originality be damned.

Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix tracklist:

  1. “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep”
  2. “Bad Timing”
  3. “Your Eyes”
  4. “Lights Out, Words Gone”
  5. “Take the Right One”
  6. “Shuffle”
  7. “Beggars”
  8. “Leave It”
  9. “Fracture”
  10. “What You Want”
  11. “Favourite  Day”
  12. “Still”