Bombay Bicycle Club fans rejoiced in 2019 when news broke of a new album in the offing – this after the band were put on ice “indefinitely” in 2014. Having freshened up their respective palettes with some solo work, the foursome reunited to tour the tenth anniversary of debut album I Had The Blues But Shook Them Loose. Recording new material soon ensued and – here we are – album number five.
The early signs had been impressive. Lead track ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’ was essentially unsurpassable as the best indie-pop song of 2019. It instantly reminded fans of why we loved and missed them so dearly and of their knack for an indie song so sickly sweet it would impress even the girlfriend who always totally hates on your music choices! We yearned for more of the same. Alas, the end result is not as rich and lovely as one hoped and I, for one, have found Everything a little bland.
Don’t misunderstand me; Everything is not a poor album - I don’t think BBC have that in them. There are some good moments; the title track is a warm and earnest indie-lite number, while 'I Can Hardly Speak’ is an airy and bold Big Countryesque pop song. ‘People People’, which features the wonderful indie singer-songwriter Liz Lawrence, is as close as we get to another gem. ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’ is the song that stands head and shoulders above though, and by some distance.
But for every middling-good track there are twice as many that are sub-par and the album suffers significantly for it. The jerky and off-kilter ‘I Worry Bout You’ is a track that even Friendly Fires would have cut from their own recent comeback fiasco. ‘Do You Feel Loved’ and album closer ‘Racing Stripes’ don’t stir anything inside the listener – they're just... there … existing quietly in the background, like sticking mood music on at a dinner party or leaving the radio on for your dog. Too much of that in any album quickly become snooze-worthy. In simplicity: I find too much of it, much too often, frankly just a bit boring.
And where Jack Steadman’s lyrics have never felt open for scrutiny, here his distinguished whimper feels easy to pick on against the flaky musical backdrop. “I would quit my job / If I had a job / If I had a job / Then I would have everything I want” from ‘Good Day’ feels underwhelming and almost too easy from such a proven song writer. I know some people have said Steadman’s lyrics are truer than they’ve ever been; more earnest and direct, but I just don’t feel it like I did before.
The cold-hearted reality is that Everything is not the fruits of a reunion that many fans will have been hoping for and falls some way short of the standard they set themselves as one of the ‘00s consistently revered indie acts. There are too many touches of Keane or Two Door Cinema Club’s drive-time fodder for my liking. There is an EP’s worth of material here but as an LP Everything is exposed as distinctly average.