Tag Archives: Bombay Bicycle Club

HPH’s top 10 albums of the year

December is a time of lists. Everyone is at it, from Pitchfork to Santa Claus (he’s checking his twice, you better have been nice). Last year at CultureDeluxe, we attempted to make some kind of communal top 10, combining together all of our votes to select an overall top 10. In the end there was quite a plethora of selections, with nothing clearly leading the way, so we all chose an album or two that we loved from the previous year, and scribbled some words about said album/albums.

However, now Horses Playing Harps exists (I can hear your cheers from here), so I can have my say on the best 10 albums I have had the pleasure of hearing in the last 12 months. Hopefully you all wildly disagree, otherwise something has gone terribly wrong with the world. Here goes:

1. SBTRKT – SBTRKT // Came out of nowhere with a thrilling and engrossing post-dubstep sound.

2. Ghoestpoet – Peanut Butter Jam and Melancholy Blues // Brilliantly British rapper with great production and great lyrics.

3. Little Comets – In Search of Elusive Little Comets // Anyone who can write a song about a former chancellor of the exchequer and make it sound good deserves a spot in the top 3.

4. Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix // Another album of new ideas, new sounds and same old greatness.

5. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar // Lion-hearted post-Britpop with addictive hooks and a great frontwoman

6. Bon Iver – Bon Iver // Insanely beautiful record, complete and fulfilling.

7. Rustie – Glass Swords // Like the party-animal version of SBTRKT, never a dull moment.

8. Drake – Take Care // What he does best: introspective rap, well produced, with some great guestspots and a dash of the late Gil-Scott-Heron.

9. I Break Horses – Hearts // Briiliant warm and fuzzy indie noise.

10. Hyro Da Hero – Birth, School, Work, Death  // Breathing fresh life into the rap-rock genre, with ex- Mars Volta/ Sparta members making some great noise.

Bombay Bicycle Club – O2 Academy, Oxford, October 2011

Bombay Bicycle Club rode their merry way into Oxford for the latest night of their biggest UK tour to date, in support of their recently released third album, A Different Of Fix.

Supporting were Dry The River, a five piece who spent most of their time attempting to prove why they aren’t a four piece. Unfortunately for them, their violinist was expertly hidden near the edge of the stage, and well obscured by a well-placed tall gent in front of me for a large amount of time. So imagine my surprise when two and a half tracks into their set, I suddenly spot this violinist, because I had certainly struggled to even notice his sound. Other than that, Dry The River sounded good, with a nice mix between the softer, quieter moments, and some huge eruptions of alt-rock noise. The voice of lead singer and guitarist Peter Liddle was particularly impressive; it’s a powerful voice that is full of feeling, like a slightly more rocking version of Guy Garvey.

After some Fat Man Scoop and House of Pain to get the crowd in the mood, an even more fractured cut of the already off-kilter piano loop from Shuffle burst out from the speakers, and the band took to the stage. Opening with Shuffle worked nicely as it showed the band had no fear in blasting through one of the most anticipated tracks of the night as they know they have a great depth of material to choose from. The band tore through a good chunk of new tracks from Fix, such as Your Eyes, Leave It and one of my favourites of the night, What You Want. Lucy Rose, who recorded vocals alongside lead singer’s Jack Steadman on Fix has also joined them on tour, which helps bring those tracks to life.

A couple of tracks from their second album, Flaws, got an airing too, and they got as big a reaction as anything else that was played. On the whole, the set list was designed to store up the big numbers from their first album to unleash towards the end. There were a few hugely pleasing aspects to this. Firstly, that it seems easy to forget just how many brilliant tracks there were from that first album; secondly that these tracks have grown, matured and really taken root within people’s consciousness. Thirdly, the band look like they still have such a great time playing these tracks; they are not a burden to bear as can be the case for some bands who have decided that some part of their older material was ‘shit’ (take a bow Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, et al…..).

While it was enjoyable hearing the new tracks played live, the older tracks completely won the day. On Evening/Morning, the two bass bridges felt like they were erupting through the walls and the floor, twinned with the lights blitzing frenzied white colour, it was an awesome spectacle. An often overlooked or overplayed element, the lighting was great throughout. On the haunting Still, played as the first encore track, Steadman sat at the piano bathed in blue light while Lucy Rose sat at the opposite side of the stage, and was bathed in orange light while assisting Steadman with vocals during the chorus, then disappearing back into the darkness when falling silent. It was a nice touch as it created a feeling of solitude and coldness to match the lyrics of the verses, while the chorus’ felt warmer.

The most impressive thing from the show is how full the set list feels. There are no flat tyres here on this bicycle, this is a band with a mighty selection of tracks to choose from and who have a captivating live show.

Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix

So after last year’s critically acclaimed Flaws, a delicate, acoustic driven sophomore LP, Bombay Bicycle Club have returned with their third album, entitled A Different Kind Of Fix, and how right they are. Within 15 seconds of opening track ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’s’ looping guitar riff commencing, it sounds like the sound of their first album. But there is something new lying beneath the obvious indie-guitar driven sound this time around; it’s something that shows a band willing to take chances, to play around with their sound, and ultimately, a band getting it very right.

With Animal Collective collaborator Ben Allen having an input in this record, the swooning, fractured electro sound associated with Animal Collective seeps into several of the tracks. As mentioned earlier, the opening track has a very reminiscent Bombay Bicycle Club riff, but then we get jittered, jumpy vocals in places, with smooth harmonies sandwiched in there as well. First single ‘Shuffle’ plays a similar trick, but with a fantastically wonky piano track running as the main ingredient around which everything else is built. Lucy Rose lends her vocals alongside Jack Steadman’s on Shuffle, and it’s a trick that is repeated on other tracks. It works well due to her having the same timid sounding voice as Steadman, while also having this charming sweetness quality to it. Shuffle is pinned down as track six, and really feels like the lynchpin of the album. Everything that precedes it feels like it is brought together in that one track and everything that follows it takes that sound in other directions.

Another stand-out track is ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’ as Steadman and Rose’s vocals intertwine sweetly. ‘Beggars’ opens up coyly in a Flaws kind of way, before the pace picks up, with the bass and percussion being as creative and imaginative as we’ve come to expect from this band, providing a whole extra level of depth to their sound. ‘What You Want’ is energetic and beautiful, with perky runaway-train sounding guitar riffs slicing through the peak of the chorus, as Steadman sings: “You can rearrange me now,” just about summing up the ethos of the album.

It’s a triumphant success for a band that are merrily riding their bicycles through whichever genres they please, as they continue to grow, develop and firmly cement themselves as one of the best bands this fair country has to offer.