Editors’ Notes “Coming up we never felt part of a scene,” Bombay Bicycle Club vocalist and chief songwriter Jack Steadman tells Apple Music. “Probably because we were always quite an antisocial band. Well, shy—we were five years younger than everyone else. Looking back, aligning yourself with a scene can be dangerous anyway as scenes always move on. So perhaps we’ve been reasonably savvy.” The North Londoners’ savviness meant knowing that a hiatus was required in 2016 after a decade together and four albums in five years. Steadman and bassist Ed Nash both scratched solo itches, drummer Suren de Saram sought fresh musical inspiration with session work, and guitarist Jamie MacColl returned to education. “We started meeting up again and talking about the band because we were thinking about doing something around the 10-year anniversary of our debut album,” Nash says. Steadman wasn’t convinced. “I immediately thought it made us feel like an ’80s heritage act,” he laughs. “So that gave me some drive to see if we could make some new music and be a bit more forward-thinking.” Staggered sessions in Cornwall and LA with producer John Congleton yielded a body of dynamic, expressive, and restorative guitar music that resets the band’s bar. “We realized comfort or solace in music and friendship when things are going wrong and having something to fall back on are the themes that run throughout this record,” Nash says. “The more we thought about it, the more it summed everything up for us as people this album.” Read on for Nash and Steadman’s track-by-track guide.

Get Up
Ed Nash: “We do agonize over track listings in general, but both thematically and structurally, this couldn't really go anywhere else on the record. It's called ‘Get Up,’ you know! The rest of the songs? Not so much.”
Jack Steadman: “The song originated from my Mr Jukes days [Steadman released the 2017 album God First under his Mr Jukes moniker]. It started with the sax sample, but I wrote it back then and put it to one side, half thinking that if the band ever did cement itself again, this would be perfect.”
EN: “As there’s now an outlet for Jack’s jazzier songwriting in Mr Jukes, it’s allowed Bombay to come back to our [the band’s 2011 third album] A Different Kind of Fix sound.”
JS: “There was a nice moment in the studio watching Ed and Suren play live in the room. We’ve always historically been a band that recorded separately before making everything perfect through editing, so it was lovely to see John just hit record, and that’s what you hear on the record.”

Is It Real
JS: “This was one of the last to be written. Lyrically, it’s the only backwards-looking song on the album. We want to make forward-thinking music, but you have to be true to those feelings, too. This is also an example of me doing a lot of computer checks. I was recording guitars, but then you can hear me changing the pitches on the computer. I’m just experimenting away from an instrument and fully immersed in the editing world to try and be creative and help the song in that way.”

Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
JS: “When you’ve spent a year writing the record and you reach the end, there’s that feeling of relief because it is such an emotional rollercoaster. So when we hit this song and had a sense that it might be the last piece of the puzzle, we were just so excited. The ‘I think I’ve found my second wind’ lyric captures that excitement, and my lack of subtlety.”

I Can Hardly Speak
EN: “It was written in about 2014, and I think when something’s a bit old, it becomes unexciting. But I made it one of my battles, so I would slip it into every conversation, mention it in emails. Fortunately, John agreed with me.”
JS: “It’s quite an unusual groove, because it sounds a bit like a marching band. It sounds to me like an old folk melody—like a shanty people would sing. On paper, it doesn’t really make any sense and should sound quite awful, but somehow it works.”

Good Day
EN: “This I wrote at the beginning of 2019 in Cornwall when I was working on another album for my solo project, Toothless, and helping Jack when he needed a hand with Bombay music. The lyrics really spoke to Jamie, our guitarist, who was doing a degree at the time and really worrying about a lot of stuff. The concerns raised in the song are raised in a positive and funny way, but are rooted in some truth. When I was doing my solo project, I was occasionally tormented by ‘how come all these other people are doing well’ thoughts. It’s entirely natural to worry about other people’s success and compare yourself to them.”

Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)
EN: “When Jack said he was going to at least try and write some new music for the band, we took a couple of trips and agreed that if it wasn’t working then we’d call it a day. This came from the second trip. Jack sent it around and you could feel the excitement from everyone. We knew it was as good as anything we’ve done.”
JS: “When you know you’ve got something to work from, there’s not a feeling like it. And when you get a phone call from your manager, that’s when you know it’s good. Usually it’s an encouraging email, but when they pick up the phone, you know you’ve got the single, or a very special song. It really was the turning point of the whole process. Writing music and making records is all about confidence, and it takes a song like this to give you that confidence to keep going. You take the swagger it gives you forward.”

I Worry Bout You
JS: “People seem to like the intro to this song. The thing is, I find it easy to start songs. I’ve got thousands of intros on my computer, and the hardest thing is to make it into a full song. We have always been a band comfortable making electronic and guitar music, so a lot of our songs start quite electronically because I am fascinated with production—and then we dust off the guitars and add to it. Lyrically, it’s an anxious song. We couldn’t have returned with another album about girls and young love—we wanted to speak to people our age, approaching their thirties.”
EN: “It’s the in-between: You’re not young, but you’re not old either. You’re finding yourself.”
JS: “This is up there with the songs I’m excited to play live. There’s a lot of energy to it, and it’s got a beautiful brass melody at the end which Suren wrote. Which was a first for him: coming into the studio with the confidence from the break we took to present his own brilliant ideas.”

People People (feat. Liz Lawrence)
EN: “I’ve been writing music with Liz for four years, and she sang with us throughout 2014. We were thinking about making an EP together, and she wrote this song and sent it over for me to finish. I wrote the bridge and rearranged it into a more complete song, but her solo work began doing better and better, so the EP was put on the back burner. I felt the song had a place on this album. I think she originally wrote it about her dad, but I thought it might be weird for us to be singing about our fathers, so we changed the meaning. So it’s now more about finding your place in the world with companionship and someone to stand there by your side, in a non-romantic way.”
JS: “I enjoy singing with other people. It tends to be female singers. I always write really high parts for my voice, and rather than me sound like a eunuch, I think it’s nice to get in other people who can actually hit those notes.”

Do You Feel Loved?
EN: “If you put a lot of distortion on this, it would be the best metal track. Perhaps fortunately, we took the distortion off, and for me it feels very us. A mix of some world music influences with electronics and a whole band put behind it.”
JS: “It’s a song about our relationship with social media. To justify what you’re doing, you need to put it out there and for people to say, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ It brings up an interesting discussion about music and why people make it. It obviously starts with you writing songs for yourself in your bedroom as a kid, but you’d be lying if you said that’s all you were doing now. You are writing with a fanbase, and you want people to love it, because that brings you so much joy.”

Let You Go
JS: “I have this snyth called an OP-1 and it has an FM radio in it. So when you’re touring you can sample straight from the radio and pick up local sounds. We were in the States and this totally unknown song came on—and it’s so chopped up now you’d never be able to really find out what it is. I love writing music in that way because you’re playing a keyboard but instead of the notes that you’re used to, there’s a childlike surprise and excitement every time you hit something. There’s nothing cerebral about it. It’s quite a weird-sounding track. There are lots of little production flourishes from John, which we love.”

Racing Stripes
JS: “I think it’s my favorite song on the record. It’s a very intimate moment and makes it unambiguous that the album is an optimistic one and its title should be interpreted that way. It was written on a 200-year-old harmonium, and I’d never played one before. When you come across something new to you like that, the first thing you write is always going to be quite interesting. People are always searching for those experiences, which is why there are so many musicians learning so many weird instruments. The first thing is always very precious. Ending on the words ‘This light will keep me going’ captures what the record is about. It’s the ideal way to close things.”

1
2:33
 
2
3:05
 
3
4:09
 
4
3:59
 
5
3:52
 
6
3:39
 
7
3:40
 
8
3:27
 
9
4:22
 
10
4:48
 
11
4:06
 

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