I like Bombay Bicycle Club, but when I read an interview that admitted they were releasing an acoustic album at least partly to show that they weren't just "another indie filler", I thought it was probably going to be bad. When bands release albums for the sake of proving people wrong, or changing their sound or for sustaining the success they managed with their last albums it's not unlikely for them to just be bad, or at least not as good, because I think they stop concentrating on releasing some decent music and focus everything on one of those other goals. So I didn't anxiously anticipate the album, but I noticed it had been released this week and gave it a listen.
The album begins with a driving rhythm and an immediately catchy melody. Another reviewer didn't like Rinse Me Down's machine gun drum rolls, but I do - it's a little different and you don't expect them. Rhythm's an important part of music, since a bad rhythm can seriously bring a song down; for the most part Flaws is driving and gladly bouncy and smooth at times. Thanks in part to the percussion it's an acoustic album that avoids utter misery.
That said, Jack Steadman's voice could be said to suit a miserable feel as it does on Jewel, which isn't a personal favourite, since I'm not sure the lyrics hold my interest throughout its quiet despair, but on the whole, the album's lyrics keep away from being cliché, but their subjects aren't new and the lyrics don't give them a particularly fresh feel. And when it comes to feel the album can seem a little much like a dirge at times, but a song like Ivy & Gold, which I think is slightly self-mocking, helps make up for that.
A nice thing about Flaws is that it plays like an album, rather than a compilation. The songs follow a calm, sailing on by kind of theme, which makes it good bedroom music, quiet background dinner party music or driving along the countryside in a car music. The clean production helps support that as do the precise sounding performances by the each member. However, I will mention that I was disappointed with the final track, Swansea, the "oh well, there you go" closer that could've either been worked on a little more or replaced with a proper final track.
Acoustic albums are things that a lot of bands like to have a go at, and there's a chance that all they'll do is show off how much the band depends on distortion and some shouting, but Bombay Bicycle Club have managed to avoid that by putting some well written songs into a perfectly listenable album. There are better albums of the kind out there, sure, but this is a good one, and if you're already into this band then I have no problem recommending a listen of Flaws.