Tuesday, October 24, 2023

It’s Bombay Bicycle Club’s Big Day! A Review of Their Latest Album ‘My Big Day’

It’s my big day, and I’m wasting it away gladly...  by listening to Bombay Bicycle Club’s new masterpiece of an album, ‘My Big Day’ on repeat.

Probably one of the most anticipated indie / alternative albums of this year is finally free for all of the world to listen to. One massive concoction of coming of age, regrets and memories and the meaning of life, this new album is definitely not meant for a casual listen on a Sunday morning. 

It’s an ‘existential crisis at 2am’ kind, in the best way. 

The London band’s sixth studio album begins with a synth from ‘Just a Little More Time’ paired with epic bass drums from drummer Suran, creating a very Hollywood like intro, telling the listener to sit back, relax and turn their phones off as the story is about to start. This track is mostly instrumental with the heavy instruments, creating a rich sound. This is not uncommon for the band; they also began their debut album, ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ with an instrumental track, ‘Emergency Contraception Blues’. They have a habit of slowly easing the listener into the intensity of their albums. In this track, however, there is lyrics, but only one - “Just a little, little, little more time”. This song is the embodiment of the fear of growing old, yearning for more time being young and to prepare for what’s to come. Songwriter and frontman Jack has shown some clever song writing with this song as he adds two more “littles” to his lyric, which makes it longer to say, therefore giving the song more time. 


The beginning of this album is very intense and quite melancholy. The use of dramatised choir-like backing vocals emphasises this and makes the atmosphere of the songs quite glum. This is not a happy start to the album. The first song goes on and continues to get more distorted as it progresses, then later finishing with a record scratch sound effect suddenly. This makes for quite a creepy listen, which nicely then leads onto ‘I Want To Be Your Only Pet’.


Continuing with the intense sombre feeling at the beginning of this album, the second track greets the listener with distorted guitar and raw, heavy drums without warning, along with the choir again, building on the weird mood that has been born. The whispering vocals in the bridge of this song are truly chilling, like the listener isn’t supposed to be hearing this as they are the narrator’s deepest thoughts and desires. There’s something about this song that almost makes the listener feel guilty for hearing it as Jack is telling them his troubles, in the form of a mantra, repeating it over and over directly in the listener’s ear, whispering it to them. Then later, shouting and screaming it in rage, something we haven’t seen from Jack before. The distressed vocals are quite uncomfortable to listen to, but they also convey a sense of realness.


Continuing the theme of sad songs, ’Sleepless’ featuring Jay Som, the first of many collaborations, is the third song to ‘My Big Day’. Musically, much happier than the rest, but lyrically still really depressing. More distorted guitar from lead guitarist Jamie to aid the heavy sound. The vocals from Jay Som work beautifully with the soft indie melody of this song, just what the listener needs as a break from the intensity at the start. 


The title track ‘My Big Day’ is the perfect ‘unhappy birthday’ song for miserable adults who don’t want to party on their birthdays, but just mope around and relax. The strange synth sounds were a revelation when this single initially came out. “This isn’t Bombay, but we like it!” It’s very reminiscent of ‘Season 2 Episode 3’ by Glass Animals from 2016 as it’s very 8-bit, video game like. This song continues the theme of growing up and being angry about it; not enjoying your birthday anymore is a common sign of ‘you’re old’. 


Turn The World On’ is all about regrets as you grow up, acting as a warning to younger listeners and to the songwriter’s younger self. 


A moment to talk about the collaborations on this album. Chaka KhanDamon Albarn and Nilufer Yanya to name a few. All very different artists yet somehow, they all work with the band so well. 


The Damon Albarn song ‘Heaven’ was one that a lot of fans have been itching to hear, and it definitely hasn’t disappointed anyone. It’s lo-fi and stripped back to begin with, very chilled out and serene. African drums and wind instruments create a tropical vibe which is a nice change from the heavy stuff from earlier on. Summer is flowing through the veins of this song, like the Bombay Bicycle Club we all know and love. It’s quite hypnotising and entrancing to hear. Until it builds up and changes into a completely different song, which makes for a really interesting track, the ‘2 in 1’ kind. Here marks the return of the distortion and intense, epic drums. The choir are back here with beautiful, melodic yet eerie vocals. Horns play a major part in this song too. As Jack Saunders once said, “maturing as a band is using horns”. Overall, this automatically tops out as one of the best from the album. 


Everyone knows Bombay Bicycle Club like a dramatic ending to their albums, and ‘Onward’ is exactly that. What seems like a simple song with a nice riff and soft bassline, then becomes a huge crescendo of all the instruments used in the album. It progresses so that as the song goes on more instruments are added. These two different sections of the song are split up by a very 2000s sounding electric guitar, something that Bombay Bicycle Club started out with in their music early on in their careers. It’s comfort and a bit of nostalgia to their younger years. ‘Onward’ is about acceptance and coming to terms with the struggles of adulthood, an overall positive end to a very emotionally intense album. The band and fans alike can all move on and grow together.

Izzi Glover

@izziglover / @izzigloverphotography 

Image: ‘My Big Day’ Official Album Cover

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