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Flaws marks a significant change of direction from Bombay Bicycle Club's debut album I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. Recorded in between touring overa year and a half after finishing their debut record, much of Flaws was recorded in singer Jack Steadman's bedroom and produced by Jack himself. This collection of stripped-down acoustic folk songs shows a completely different side to the band, with influences from the likes of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, John Martyn and Nick Drake. The album includes title track "Flaws" (a duet with Lucy Rose) and the single "Ivy & Gold".
There was a vogue last year for second albums that were markedly different to the artists in question's debuts. Jack Penate, The Maccabees and The Horrors all changed direction, and mostly for the better. The latter in particular earned praise for their about-turn, from mediocre goth-rock to a tantalising blend of krautrock and post-My Bloody Valentine drone.
Bombay Bicycle Club–BBC to their friends–have arguably effected the most radical volte-face of all. Their first album, 2009's I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose, was promising indie noise-pop, also bearing a pleasing MBV influence. Right at the end of the album, though, there was a relatively pared-down piece of poignant acoustica called "The Giantess" that, little did we know, pointed the way towards their second release.
Flaws, co-produced by guitarist/backing vocalist Jamie MacColl's dad Neil (brother of Kirsty, son of folkie Ewan) and mainman Jack Steadman (lead vocals, guitar, xylophone, banjo), is almost entirely acoustic, whether it's the original material or the covers–there's a version of John Martyn's "Fairytale Lullaby", while Swansea features lyrics from the Joanna Newsom track of the same name. Deeper investigation of BBC's catalogue will reveal that their single B sides were often acoustic, but still, hearing a whole album of folk, blues and country-inflected ballads (apparently inspired by Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music) from the NME's Best New Band of 2010 still feels quite odd.
Even the faster numbers are steeped in traditional music. On opener "Rinse Me Down" and second track "Many Ways", the rhythms are gently skittering, like rustic drum'n'bass played by early 20th century farm hands. Steadman's vocal stands out–its tremulous quality may be a hangover from, as the story goes, embarrassment at being overheard singing as a kid, but it heightens the sense of an authentically troubled spirit exorcising his demons in the quietly devastating manner of a Nick Drake. On "My God" his voice is disconcertingly double-tracked, as though haunted by his ghostly twin. "Dust on the Ground" is perhaps most striking, not least because it is a folk rendition of a track from that debut album that proves how abrupt this change of direction was, not to mention how adaptable Steadman's melodies are.--Paul Lester
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Top Customer Reviews
The acoustic sounds running throughout give it a beautifully relaxed and chilled feel with the lyrics and melodies just flowing. There is no single weak song on the album with my favourite being 'Fairytale Lullaby.'
I've read the previous review saying how different it is to the first and I agree but I only see this as a positive thing. The band have clearly tried something new and aren't going for the normal same Indie kind of approach. I loved their first album and I love this one too.
I would recommend it highly.
affection for their 2009 debut 'I Had The Blues but I shook Them
Loose'. It was a confident and thoroughly enjoyable first showing.
Their new album 'Flaws' follows closely in its footsteps and is
destined to be one of the year's unassuming lo-fi highlights.
There are eleven songs in the collection (two of them not their own)
which creep up on you quietly and make their mark without resort to
fanciful gestures and unnecessary braggadocio.
Simple music; simply performed; simply lovely.
Jack Steadman's gentle vibrato is still present and correct.
His voice defines the band's sound . Warm, nicely wobbly
and with the capacity to make us sit up, listen and feel
something nice going on inside ourselves.
There are some truly lovely songs here.
'Leaving Blues' is one of the loveliest of them. A magical
folk-tinged ballad shot though with gentle harmonies and a
plaintive and affecting vocal performance from Mr Steadman.
Loss and longing have rarely been so well articulated.
Opening track 'Rinse Me Down' is another fine composition.
The splendid guitar interplay and economical percussion propel
the arrangement forward with laconically upbeat determination.
The melody works its way into memory after a couple of listens
and won't go away. (I found myself humming it on more than one
occasion this week).
For my money, however, the stunning 'Many Ways' is the album's
highpoint.Read more ›
Accoustic albums often have the sense of being samey throughout. However Bombay Bicycle Club avoid these pitfalls with a unique approach. Accoustic riffs are at the fore front and the beautiful tunes are nicely woven in to form outstanding songs with outstanding musicianship.
The opener "Rinse Me Down" is an upbeat song with a memorable riff and the vocals duck in and out, carving the way for the simple "Many Ways" which has an outstanding Mandoline riff. The Country flavoured "Dust"(complete with Harp and Jambay)has such a beautiful tune and it is further enhanced with yet another catchy riff.
In a perfect world "Ivy and Gold" would have been hailed as THE "Single of 2010" with that memorable, almost oriental sounding riff and Byrds-ish harmonies.....a classic!!!
"Leaving" is such a haunting ballad with some fine Guitar picking, while "Fairytale" nicely chuggs along with upbeat percussion and yet another outstanding riff!!
"Word By Word" is quite a unique piece of music, with the Mandoline and Accoustic Guitar practically answering to each other while the simple yet beautiful tune is built around it.
"My God" is an upbeat song that shuffles along , bathed with atmosphere and an outstanding tune that lifts it up as one of the best tracks here.
The title track boasts brilliant harmonies that are prominent right through this album, almost Psychadelic, almost Byrds-ish! Swansea is the icing on the cake!
An album which is an absolute pleasure to listen to!!
The limited edition of this album has a bonus DVD featuring every track performed by the band live at various favourite locations of theirs! Worth Viewing!!