Bombay Bicycle Club – ‘I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose’ | Classic Record Review

Looking back at how right Bombay Bicycle Club’s Debut Album Was

For new bands, the first album is the most important. It defines who they are, and sculpts the path for the remainder of their careers. Bombay Bicycle Club played all of the right cards with their first album. Ensuring that their own path will be that of a long and smooth one. I had the blues but I shook them loose has to be one of the best debut albums a band can release.

Recorded in 2008 and released in 2009, it exposes all of the group’s strengths, whilst masking any weaknesses that they may have faced along the way. Having been fresh out of secondary school in Crouch End, the lads show a serious sign of maturity and age in all of the songs.

Bombay Bicycle Club entered Virgin Mobile’s ‘Road to V’ which kick-started their career and introduced them to the world. It led to them being one of the most hyped indie acts in Britain as they gave a fresh perspective of the broad genre to music lovers through their innovative songs.

The Sound of Fearlessness

The album itself is a fully electric, guitar fronted record filled with quirky melodies and rhythmic balance. This proves their religion to exciting riffs. ‘Always Like This‘ is their most successful song, and was released as a single prior to the album (April 2009). In this song, we hear lead vocalist Jack Steadman’s refreshing voice singing lyrics such as; ‘I’m not whole, you waste it‘. This hints that as humans we constantly look to others in order to make ourselves feel better, but it ends up hurting us more.

Arguably, the most distinct part of the song is the beginning. Steadman’s vocal line dances around the main riff initially until the rest of the instruments join in the party. When it comes to Steadman’s voice, he shares a similar quiver with The Smith’s Morrissey, making it an intriguing listen.

However, the other songs on the album shouldn’t be ignored. Dripping in reverb, ‘Dust on the Ground‘ shows that good songs come naturally to this band, and ‘Always Like This’ wasn’t just luck.

Welcomed into the song with Saram’s drums, which are experimented with throughout the album in different getting us hooked. Again, we hear the distinct vocals which distinguish Bombay Bicycle Club from the thousands of other bands across the UK. The electric guitar, played by Jamie MacColl, is simplistic strumming, yet it somehow adds to the complicity of the overall sound as there appears to be a lot going on.

Dropping the Vocals

Lamplight’ is one of my personal favourites. It features all of the captivating components of the other songs combined with vague and unusual lyrics. Notably there is a lack of words in the song. However, this gives our ears time to appreciate the contrasting instrumental sections. Heavily distorted guitars are juxtaposed with softer palm mute, adding texture to the fascinating band’s assortment of songs. Most of the tunes share atypical qualities, as ‘Autumn’ introduces an electronic drum beat half way and ‘Emergency Contraception Blues’ has no vocals at all.

The slowest song ‘The Giantess’ is brilliant. Complex finger picking patterns on the acoustic guitar is accompanied electronic drum beats, much like in ‘Autumn‘. As the last song on the album, it features instruments we haven’t yet heard on the record. This perfectly sets the way for their second, more stripped back album ‘Flaws’. It showed their fans that there’s much more to come, and allowed them to expand further in album 2.

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