By Tara Schoenborn
Indie rockers Bombay Bicycle Club’s sound is hard to pin down, for better or for worse.
Recently, British indie rock band Bombay Bicycle Club premiered a special live acoustic version of its hit song “You Already Know” to prepare for their St. Patrick’s Day show in Dublin. This gentle, slow acoustic version demonstrates the identity crisis that the band and, it seems, most indie bands, has had since it first began.
The band members rocked out on their first album, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, while still in school. The album was accepted warmly. It was very youthful and portrayed an upbeat boyish romance, which is clearly demonstrated in the poppy acoustic “Dust on the Ground.” The band’s first debut embraced the pop-centric world and made music that was applicable to the members’ ages and musical abilities.
Their sophomore album, Flaws, however, demonstrated some maturity and shifted to a more soft, acoustic folk focus. It graced the UK top ten. The aforementioned mentioned “You Already Know” is a perfect example of the album’s sound. While there are some upbeat songs, most are slow and somber and really embrace the folk genre almost to the extent that acoustic is overused. Almost as if the band realized this, in their most recent album, A Different Kind of Fix, Bombay tried to add some electronic into the mix, probably taking inspiration from Animal Collective and similar bands. Moving far away from the acoustic, the band uses electronic drum noises and distorted guitars, like in “Bad Timing,” to give the music a completely different feel – one that moves away from folk and closer to rock. The band appears to want to change its image to embrace the emerging dance music craze.
Bombay Bicycle Club does not seem to be able to pick an identity and stick with it. When trying to establish a name in the music world, bands such as Bombay seem to jump around from pop to rock to EDM like it’s no big deal. Is this changing identity a good thing that keeps the band on top, or does the band look unprofessional and limit its ability to make it big? It’s still to be determined.