Analogue Music | Bombay Bicycle Club - Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

Artist: Bombay Bicycle Club · Written by Matt Conner

Date Released

17 January, 2020


Caroline International


41 minutes

For its 41 minute running time, the newest Bombay Bicycle Club album does exactly what it is supposed to do.

In this digital age (is that the right name?), any musician or band would be thrilled to know a listener spent considerable time listening with their latest release from beginning to end. It's hard enough to get singles spun as it is, yet the album format, for many, lives on and so, therefore, does its hopes. First and foremost, that hope centers on entertaining or entrancing the listener from beginning to end.

Bombay Bicycle Club, the on-again London-based quartet, has burst out of the gate in this new year with one of 2020's first essential listens. Everything Else Has Gone Wrong is the band's first new album in six years, largely due to a three-year hiatus during which the group's future was uncertain while chasing solo projects. Whether the break was inspired or Jack Steadman and company simply had more in the tank is of no consequence. The music is here and it's oh-so-good.

These are captivating pop/rock structures with post-punk leanings and dance hall ambitions. The horns are brilliant. The synths are moody. The percussion is varied. It's equal part Stars and The Helio Sequence, but if you've been a fan of Bombay Bicycle Club for some time, then you'll know they're just following the interests they've maintained for some time now. The melodic center is never lost amid the imaginative turns and quirky instrumentation.

If this all sounds a bit over-the-top, give BBC two-and-a-half minutes. "Get Up" is the killer lead track that lays down a looped saxophone for the sonic floor over which multiple electric guitars, crashing cymbals, backing vocals and more are added until the swell becomes too much. It's exhilarating and exhausting and it's all crammed into the front closet.

From there, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong allows everything to feel right for the better part of an hour. "Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)," one of the album's early singles, is a bouncing mid-tempo earworm perfectly placed at the album's center. Ever-so-slight early Radiohead leanings can be heard on the title track, while the killer percussion and brass work on "I Worry About You" blend on another highlight in the second half.

But all of this has been about the album's sound, the actual music, which is brilliant and, on its own, enough to recommend Everything Else Has Gone Wrong. Yet subtle messages are at work on BBC's latest that make this release something more, something meaningful. While the lyrics here play a supporting role to the music, it's nonetheless heartening to take in Jack Steadman's statements.

"Get Up" kickstarts the album with a calling out, a challenge to find yourself, to move forward, to join in the work—at least that's how it's taken. "Get up, get up/ To find out if they want it/ To find you/ You cry out, you don't want to/ But you do/ But you do." By the time "Racing Stripes" closes the album, Steadman is repeating a somber refrain:

This light'll keep me going
And I don't even know wherever I may go

Even if Steadman had nothing to say, or only a cloud to add to an already overcast sky, Bombay Bicycle Club's new album would be a sonic triumph.

That call to action and sustained momentum is the encouragement provided by Bombay Bicycle Club's newest release. Get moving and you'll find a light to keep things in motion.

On the title track, Steadman laments he is "aching for a word and the words are not coming." Even as "everything else has gone wrong," Steadman ends up repeating a mantra of sorts, as if the repetition itself is key to its creation, a self-fulfilling bumper sticker.

And yes, I found my second wind
And yes, I found some hope again

What some might not appreciate here is the general nature of the lyrics, that Steadman could be singing about anything. But in these bleak days where the systems around us feel hopelessly corrupt and problems seem bigger than any solution, Steadman is tapping into something important: to get up, whatever that means; to keep going, whatever that means; to move toward the light, whatever that means. The application is personal, the push is general. And Steadman doesn't forget that any ability to move in positive ways can only happen arm-in-arm, anchored in relational realizations found on "People People" and "Let You Go". From the former:

I'll be your guide in this world we're living in
Both standing side-by-side

Even if Steadman had nothing to say, or only a cloud to add to an already overcast sky, Bombay Bicycle Club's new album would be a sonic triumph for a band making their best music to date. But the underlying reminders to get up and stay up is what pushes Everything Else Has Gone Wrong over the top. Other albums will capture and command our attention in the year to come, but there's little doubt this will have significant staying power at or near the top by year's end.

VISIT: Bombay Bicycle Club