I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose

by: Bombay Bicycle Club

Bombay Bicycle Club were the center of quite a bit of attention, both in their native England and abroad, thanks to their big win in Virgin Mobile's Road to V battle-of-the-bands competition. Following their win, they played dozens of live shows, were tirelessly blogged about, were featured in NME, and entertained a good number of offers from big labels -- all of this before they graduated from upper secondary school. This is pretty heavy stuff for any up-and-coming band, let alone one comprised of a bunch of teenagers, so it made sense that Bombay Bicycle Club dodged the major-label offers and took some time to get their bearings; they self-released a couple EPs (with the help of Arctic Monkeys producer Jim Abbiss, who produced this album as well) and finished up their studies before taking the plunge and signing with Island Records. And their level-headed approach seems to have paid off -- I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose is a sleek, polished, balanced listen made up of the kind of punchy, angular, brooding-vocals-and-pounding-bass indie rock that brings to mind Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. "Dust on the Ground" finds the band at its most similar to Franz Ferdinand (or even Editors). It's also one of the album's better tracks: a prickling blast of lead singer Jack Steadman's tremulous caterwaul, some blissed-out reverb guitars, and a punchy hook. The band really shines, though, when it edges into more playful territory, specifically on the Vampire Weekend-esque "Always Like This"; Steadman's anxious vocals are luminous when set against the track's bright background of jumpy, Afro-beat-influenced basslines. Both of these songs have heart, and they make I Had the Blues stand out as something more than just another take on the angular, moody, post-punk-influenced sound that dominated the U.K. indie scene for most of the early 2000s. ~ Margaret Reges

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