Album reviews: Bombay Bicycle Club | Of Mice & Men

Bombay Bicycle Club. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Bombay Bicycle Club. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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THE UK’s fey hipsters of choice in the 2010s, Crouch End’s Bombay Bicycle Club come into this, their fourth album in five years, with blanket approval from the UK music press and top ten showings for their previous two albums.

Bombay Bicycle Club

So Long, See You Tomorrow

Island Records, £14.99

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Given that they’ve never had a single chart even as high as the top 50, it becomes even more imperative that they keep their natural constituency happy, those listeners with a longer attention span and a desire to hear an album which represents a complete body of work rather than a couple of buzz tracks and 30 minutes of filler.

This is a record that emphatically stands up as a complete work with its own tensions and aesthetic being developed throughout, although it’s one which rarely flares up into individual moments of stand-out brilliance. From the artificial string swirl and dreamy vocal of opener Overdone, it floats into the looping, almost seasonal chime of It’s Alright Now, and the vaguely clubby synth crunch of Carry Me. All of this washes over the ears without ever really taking a firm grip, although Jack Steadman’s lovely, lullabyish vocal is ably supported by the arrangements around him.

Home By Now is a lovely, nostalgic diversion, and Whenever Wherever benefits from a bittersweet downbeat atmosphere, while there’s some out-and-out balladry in Eyes Off You and an interesting blend of Indian folk and Hot Chip during Feel. Influences are rarely exposed throughout this record, but there’s no shame in describing Come To Me as being like a shoegaze Hall & Oates, while the title track ends on a high by finding the midway point between the Byrds, Galaxie 500 and Wild Beasts. DAVID POLLOCK

• Download this: Carry Me, So Long, See You Tomorrow

Of Mice & Men

Restoring Force

Rise, £12.99

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A top 30 success in the US with their previous album, 2011’s The Flood, California metal group Of Mice & Men offer something at once vigorously cathartic and just a little overwrought on this third release – no wonder given the attrition rate of the band’s members. “It feels like forever is crashing down on me,” sings Austin Carlile in guttural, melodramatic style on Feels Like Forever. But the music on tracks like this, Public Service Announcement and You’re Not Alone is an earthy and often thrilling collision of old school metal and the kind of riffs Guns N’ Roses would be proud of. DP

• Download this: Feels Like Forever, Space Enough to Grow

Dum Dum Girls

Too True

Sub Pop, £13.99

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All-female New York via Los Angeles hipsters Dum Dum Girls aren’t above the odd corporate tie-in with a big brand like H&M, and their online presence is all devilishly-posed, black-clad portraits. Yet the music they play is unstudied and informal, with heavy hints of Siouxsie and the Banshees in Dee Dee Penny’s breathy vocal, the loping grind of latterday Jesus and Mary Chain in Lost Boys and Girls Club, and the chiming rock’n’roll of the Go-Gos in Rimbaud Eyes and Little Minx. The result falls between two stools, neither pure enough to be first rate pop, nor challenging enough to present an alternative. DP

• Download this: Cult Of Love, Little Minx

JAZZ

Joe Stilgoe

Songs on Film Live

Beard Records BEARDCD1, via internet only

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Recorded at the London Jazz Festival in November, this CD would seem to be the perfect souvenir for anyone who attended the stylish pianist-singer-raconteur Joe Stilgoe’s sell-out show – or who goes to hear him when he brings it to St Andrews’ Byre Theatre next month. As much of a cabaret artist as a jazz one, Stilgoe delights his audience with his witty patter (though it doesn’t bear replaying as many times as his best tunes) and his effervescent performance of a mixed bag of film songs, the best being two of his own ballads – the previously recorded homage to The Apartment, Cookie-Wise, and Gold On Silver – plus Randy Newman’s tender When She Loved Me. ALISON KERR

• Download this: (That’s the Way It Crumbles) Cookie-Wise

FOLK

Marit Fält and Rona Wilkie

Turas

Watercolour Music MCMCD051, via internet only

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Marit Fält plays the Scandinavian lätmandola, the equivalent of our contemporary cittern, or octave mandola – which she infuses with her Nordic sensibility, beside her Scottish friend’s fiddle. From Oban, BBC Young Traditional award-winner Rona Wilkie formed a duo with Marit at Newcastle’s traditional music course, going on to create this novel fusion of both cultures. Songs in Gaelic are joined to tunes and airs from both sides of the North Sea, but with a deliberate intensity and musicality, as the two young women create a beautiful new synthesis from some old rocks lying around our equivalent topography. NORMAN CHALMERS

• Download this: Rory’s Dinosaur Jumper

CLASSICAL

Johann Sebastian Bach

Six Sonatas For Violin And Piano

ECM 476 4582, £28.99

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Bach took some 17 years to complete these six sonatas for violin and harpsichord, and then continued to revise them until his death in 1750. This performance by Michelle Makarski on violin and Keith Jarrett on piano not only brings out Bach’s masterly writing but does so with a distinctively modern feel. In making only his second recording of Bach on piano rather than harpsichord, Jarrett – whose previous recordings include both books of The Well-Tempered Clavier and the Goldberg Variations – seems to have thrown himself into the different dynamic that results, with the piano playing an audibly more powerful role than would be the case with the harpsichord. Not that Makarski is held back as a result, and both players finely balance one another. ALEXANDER BRYCE

• Download this: Sonata No 2, Andante un poco

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