Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Carry Me” by Bombay Bicycle Club from the 2014 album So Long, See You Tomorrow on Vagrant.
It would have been easy to pigeonhole Bombay Bicycle Club as this year’s installment of four young guys from London with guitars and angst caught in the UK hype machine, but as the London quartet grew out of their shadow by releasing records that took far more risks than those of their peers, they’ve emerged as one of Britain’s most thrilling young bands. Singer/guitarist Jack Steadman, guitarist Jamie MacColl, bassist Ed Nash, and drummer Suren de Saram’s debut outing, 2009’s I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, showed a band with plenty of potential, but instead of crafting a sharper version of their debut, the band ditched their amplifiers for 2010’s Flaws, a fully acoustic album that was, if nothing else, a bold move (in a pre-Mumford landscape, of course). When they did return to electric sounds on 2011’s A Different Kind Of Fix, the band had teamed with producer Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective’s Merriwether Post Pavilion) to make a record encapsulating something rare in the British rock scene: a band whose power lied in nuance rather than sheer fury.
As the members approach the average age of 24, the band is already a UK press and festival staple and has cultivated a sizable following in North America as well, but with their self-produced fourth album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, the quartet are undoubtedly aiming for bigger stages. Thickly layered and unabashedly more muscularly anthemic than the band’s previous work, So Long is the end result of Steadman’s global travels in 2012-2013, and accordingly incorporates a wider variety of influences — primarily Eastern and electronic ones — into the subtly moving, atmospheric approach from A Different Kind of Fix. “Carry Me” begins with a few seconds of processed vocals (a trick they’ve successfully used before) before erupting with pounding drums and slightly distorted horns. During the verses, Steadman’s nasally moan plays call-and-response with regular contributor Lucy Rose’s echoing resolutions (“I won’t change… here and now”). When they get to the chorus, Steadman boldly delivers a line that brims either with absolute confidence or terrible fear – “If anybody wants to know/our love’s getting old” – leading to an pulsating chorus that repeats the song’s titular refrain to a furious climax. When it’s all over, it’s still unclear whether or not Steadman and Rose’s characters have resolved anything beyond acknowledging that they’re intertwined with one another, but that’s what makes it all the more gripping.
Bombay Bicycle Club will tour in support of So Long, See You Tomorrow, starting in Europe this month and working their way to North America by April. After playing a slot at Coachella, the band will play the Neptune Theatre on Wednesday, April 23rd. Get tickets and more info on that all-ages show here, keep up with the band on their website and Facebook, and watch the video for “Carry Me” below.