Bombay Bicycle Club- Flaws
It is no secret that I fell massively in love with debut album "I had the blues but I shook them loose..." which was released barely a year ago, a debut which managed to be significantly mature while still maintaining the naivety and love lorn innocence of being 16-18 years old. Most of the album truly nailed on the head some of the confusion of early adulthood and the resentment and struggles that it brings. Importantly it sounded like four young men finding their musical feet with significant ease but Jack's lyrics often described that finding the road of life was far harder especially in social and romantic situations.
From "Evening/Morning"'s near desperate heart entering plea of "I am ready to owe you anything..." to "Dust on The Ground" (also featured on flaws) belief in ancient love that you will never lose even after the person leaves you feeling heartbroken. "Ghost" relating to the endless time you have versus the productivity you actually put into anything with the social awkwardness of " You should be around they should just say whenAnd you should make time, you should make time for them." While my favourite was "Magnet" which captured quite perfectly lyrically and musically that teenage feeling with it's soaring melancholy feeling and its magnificent post house party chorus "I'm sorry I left so soon, IDidn't want to break anybody's mood 'Cos last night you woke me up We almost fell in love But then you said It is time for bed" engaging so readily teenage lust and not acted upon teenage romantic feelings.
Let's just put some massive cliches out there... Flaws was always going to be a difficult listen for me for several reasons, I had such strong personal feelings for the debut that anything less was going to be a disappointment, I actually feared putting the album in the CD player, and the fact that it was so clearly an acoustic album released so soon after their debut also made me feel a little confused. Especially since sonically the debut worked so well that something would be massively absent from being unplugged.
It's also a cliche to say something along the lines of "Flaws" prepares you in it's title to be a letdown or alternatively concurs the zeitgeist by accepting people will have fears about it. It is also a growing record as many of the tracks for the debut were written years before it's release.
Have Bombay Bicycle Club grown up significantly on "Flaws", the answer is yes and no, they've grown older some of what made them naive has obviously left them but the songs are still lovelorn and of a time and place and more importantly those same emotions as the debut.
The Opening track "Rinse Me Down" opens with the line "Chasing the night to make it right, oh when you had it, caught like a rabbit" instantly engages in overcoming the fears of teenage relationships only to realize you had it right before.
Including "Dust on The Ground" at first seems pointless but when you see how it works acoustically, the influences stressed in different ways add to how much these narratives of youth are growing from excitement to near resentment in itself. On "Flaws" the emphasis is how the "ancient love" can be outgrown and you can move on, as much as you may never want to, it plays like a melancholy wistful campfire song of another day.
"Many Ways" sings "I've always been a coward, been a coward to this day, there are many ways this way..." almost a direct reply to "Magnet," the songs all show significant growth from their hopeful beginning, and musically Bombay Bicycle Club are far more accomplished then their years may display. Any fears that this band suffer sonically from being stripped down are dispelled instantly and any comparisons to band like Storonoway or Mumford & Sons are easy and childish. "Flaws" reinforces BBC as a lyrics band, stories of young life told from an urgent, fragile and hopeful point of view, written by young people for young people about young experiences. So if Blues was about sixth form downs and (often near) ups, then Flaws is about what comes next, undecision about the future, regrets, forgetting and more hopes. It's maybe not as accomplished and an instant listen as the debut, but it's grasp on emotion, particularly about social and gender interactions prove that lyrically and musically this band are ever changing, adaptable and open to interpretation and gradually over time this band will make one of the most impressive albums of the decade. 8/10