This week, it seems that the weather has finally caught up with the rest of us, and it’s been amazing. Spending the majority of the sunshine sat in the garden trying to make my cat love me, I’ve been revisiting one of the ultimate summer albums. Bombay Bicycle Club are one of those bands who have seen me through the turbulent transition from teenager to slightly older teenager. While their sound has matured with the band, the first Bombay record I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose is, in my opinion, the one to listen to before you die. It’s also the perfect summer record.
This album encapsulates the light hearted teenage angst so common in young indie bands, but this group had a very original take on it. The combination of Jack Steadman’s unique voice and refreshingly light guitar riffs create the impression of good time guys, while the lyrics tackle impressively morose themes for a band of teenagers.
If you’ve never heard Steadman’s voice before, it’s a good example of an indie tone, with a slightly forced warble which is simultaneously jarring and soothing. In later albums, such as the acoustic Flaws, it’s incredibly smooth, perfect for the lullaby-esque tracks. On I Had The Blues… and especially in tracks such as Cancel on Me, it’s throaty with excess vibrato, but this works with the hyperactive guitars and drums backing it, and in this track the slower outro: “Dreaming of you rushing up to me; that was the boy I used to be.”
There are great one liners such as this littered throughout the record such as in Ghost: “You just fly straight up then calm the fuck down”, or in The Hill: “Alright let’s go outside and rise, rise, rise to the meaning of life.” The latter track especially is one for the summer months, even if it has a slightly grim tone underlying the jangling guitars: “We’re crying; we’re all falling out and I want to go back to old times.” The same can be said of What If, my favourite on the record. “What if one of us had the guts tonight?” It’s a simple sentiment, but a significant one.
For me, this album is a nostalgic one. If you’ve never heard it before, I think you should. Of all the many (many, many, many) indie boy bands out there, Bombay Bicycle Club are one of the best. Their sound has developed in impressive ways up to today, but on their debut they came out strong with complex and intricate songs which spoke to their peers (and others). An album to listen to before the sun dies, at least.