Much has been made of the fact that Bombay Bicycle Club’s new record is their third in as many years. Even more has been said about how different these albums are to each other in terms of style: the driving guitars of I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose paved the way for the acoustic tenderness of Flaws, one of the most underrated follow-up albums of recent years. There wasn’t very much chance the acoustic album would have much in common with A Different Kind of Fix, but there are some similarities – some less obvious than others.
For instance, Lucy Rose, who turned up twice on Flaws, shows up again to provide backing vocals and harmonies in a few different spots on the new album, most notably on “Lights Out, Words Gone” – the second single – and as a whole, the record is much more atmospheric, sometimes even chilled. Lots of things have changed, though, and the band have developed a more layered sound that was completely absent on the full-band debut, with lots of subtle flourishes here and there. This is the kind of album where – and this is far more than just mere hyperbole – every listen reveals something new.
A Different Kind of Fix absolutely drips confidence as well. “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” has been re-recorded to bring it in line with the sound of the rest of the album. Most bands wouldn’t go near a song fans have known and loved for more than a year, but the new version is imbued with a sort of swagger that suggests Bombay Bicycle Club knew exactly what they were doing when they re-worked it. It’s extremely appropriate that the album should start with such a fun song, because one thing is abundantly clear: they had the time of their lives making this record, and who could blame them?
“Shuffle” is still one of the singles – songs – of the year, and it works just as well in album context, perfectly placed in between “Take the Right One” and “Beggars.” The latter of these two songs is perhaps the most sonically impressive the band have sounded to date, boasting a gargantuan chorus and impressive drums. There’s plenty of great drumming in evidence on the record, in fact – aside from lead singer Jack Steadman, whose performance on album closer “Still” is nothing short of stunning, no-one’s stepped up their game more than Suren de Saram: “Your Eyes” is just one piece of evidence I could give.
Their refusal to keep still or even think of resting on their laurels has made Bombay Bicycle Club one of the most important bands in the UK. They’re much more than a simple ‘guitar band’ at this stage: they’ve had to adapt and evolve, and they’ve done so in style. They deserve every bit of success this album brings them, simply because A Different Kind of Fix is one of the most accomplished albums of the year.