Transition periods for artists vary greatly, depending in some part on the proximity of the “new” and “old” sounds an artist contributes to each record. London four-piece Bombay Bicycle Club play things a little too close to the rulebook: elements of their previous work (see Flaws and A Different Kind of Fix) flow very well with their new release, So Long, See You Tomorrow, but a repressed, uninspired, deceptive sensation tingles throughout. It’s the sort of cliché feeling of being re-exposed to specific bells and whistles that had defined various indie sub-genres a while ago, a move from a band working towards a big next step.
The group definitely isn’t bad at seaming together sounds from dance, folk, indie rock, and synth music. See “Luna”, one of the album’s early singles, on which a guest female vocalist synchronizes with lead vocalist Jack Steadman to pit-pattering synths and nonspecific “indie rock” drums. The song’s good for a group transitioning into indie mainstream territory, seizing the opportunity for larger audiences and grander performance space, but it doesn’t break through any sort of barrier that’ll make the record, as a whole, unique or push any boundaries. That’s not the worst offense, though, and Bombay Bicycle Club doesn’t follow this trend entirely.
The first four tracks of So Long, See You Tomorrow (“Overdone”, “It’s Alright Now”, “Carry Me”, and “Home by Now”) could operate as the record’s clandestine inner EP. Each features its own distinct personality, from the strings of “Overdone” to the dub elements of “Carry Me”. The same female vocalist is here, too, on “Home by Now”, singing the record’s strongest chorus with Steadman: “If you wanna try/ You could call out and see me/ You could be home by now.” The track unfortunately ends with one negative element featured on some of the other songs, a small flush of vocal or lyrical repetition, and another element found on almost every tune, an increased tempo.
On “Come To” and “Whenever, Wherever”, that increased tempo is successful, as each song necessitates a bolstered ending. On the other hand, the sweetness and softness of album closer “So Long, See You Tomorrow” make this repeated tool rather unsuccessful. The first half feels complete, with Steadman edging back to the purer coos of Bombay Bicycle Club’s previous albums. Instead, it ends loudly, amid a cadre of looped vocals.
This ending for So Long, See You Tomorrow is ironic. It feels like we really will see the group, if not tomorrow exactly, then surely very soon, in the form of whatever this record is clearly ramping up to. Ending the album as they did leaves implication for a more fully realized and decisive follow-up.
Essential Tracks: “Overdone”, “It’s Alright Now”, and “Home by Now”