Bombay Bicycle Club’s fourth LP opens with the aptly “Overdone,” a brilliantly confused sonic clusterfuck of Bollywood strings, trashy hip-hop drums, and blaring synth-bass. “I keep the world awake to be asleep,” sings frontman Jack Steadman in a hazy lullaby cadence. It’s not the most intuitive opening gambit, but this London quartet has built a career on the unexpected — moving from guitar-based indie-rock to dance-pop to…whatever the hell you’d call So Long, See You Tomorrow.
Steadman wrote these 10 tracks while traveling through India, Japan, and Turkey — and that cultural eclecticism is evident in the album’s broad musical palette, at times echoing Peter Gabriel’s kaleidoscopic world-music-meets-Western-pop approach found on So and Passion.
But, like Gabriel, Steadman is judicious in his patchwork approach: These are big pop songs — thrillingly unpredictable ones, but pop songs nonetheless. “Luna” blends digitized tabla with math-rock drums and a Bono-sized chorus; “Home By Now” finds Steadman reflecting on a heartbroken winter car ride within a snow-globe of looped piano, skittering snare samples, and synth-bass that gurgles like a tuba.
But the emotional centerpiece, perhaps ironically, is the least expansive track here, the breathtaking “Eyes Off You”: Over a minimal palette of piano and synth-strings, Steadman repeats a melancholy mantra (“I can’t be sad”) in a falsetto so intimate, you can hear the spit smacking in the corners of his mouth. It’s a moment of cathartic calm within the album’s sprawling storm.