Review Summary: Bombay Bicycle Club learn to move past their Flaws.
Bombay Bicycle Club’s first album was unexpected, in fact it really came from nowhere. It was fresh and manic in just how big
the sound coming from the LP was. Needless to say, NME and Radio 1 soon picked it up (only just
after everyone else) so promptly started to drip-feed the general population the more pop orientated tracks. Bombay Bicycle Club saw this popularity coming and thought to themselves “right, we’ve going to defy expectations and make an acoustic album”. And so, in trying to be different they did the same thing as almost every other band, they made a *** second album. The vocals just weren’t suited to being quiet and the guitar wasn’t brilliant either.
Nevermind though, “A Different Kind of Fix” represents possibly the best step the band could have made. They’ve taken a lot of what made their first LP so good, combined it with what they learned from the second album and given it that little bit of pop sheen to make it accessible for everyone. This does mean that a few songs aren’t quite as good as they could be, but the LP as a whole is definitely interesting enough to hold your attention.
Although there are acoustic sections in many of the songs, Bombay Bicycle Club have improved them dramatically since Flaws. The vocals don’t sound as nervous and whiny and have a bit more range to them than they have done; and now that Bombay Bicycle Club know fully acoustic songs aren’t their bread and butter, they break off into more alt-rock choruses in songs such as "Beggar". At the same time, while songs like “Bad Timing” and “Favourite Day” don’t quite live up to the amount of epic
to be found in “Magnet” and “What if?” on the first LP, the band make up for this by having a very rhythmic structure that exaggerates the build-ups and keeps everything moving at a solid pace.
Despite the general dumbing down of their sound, they've managed to pack a lot of emotion into the LP. This is mostly due to the contrast brought about by the variation in the LP. This variation was definitely not something I was expecting. The last track, “Still”, sees Bombay Bicycle Club venturing deep into ambient/electronica territory. They even distort the vocals James Blake-style so it fits with the new tone, which is impressive from a band who’ve never shown a hint of interest in anything other than the classic 4 piece indie arrangement. Even the first single of the LP, "Suffle" sees experiments in vocal sampling and some very funky piano.
In the end, while A Different Kind of Fix doesn’t quite match up to the bar first raised by their debut, the difference in quality is only slight. This LP is certainly not something to missed and if the popularity of the live performances are anything to go by we'll get to hear more than our fair share in the coming months.