A melodic, guitar-driven indie rock outfit from North London, Bombay Bicycle Club emerged to critic and fan buzz with their 2009 debut, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. Blending sensual, reverb-slicked post-punk sensibilities with the kind of bubbly, rhythmically adventurous quirkiness that evoked acts like Orange Juice, Bloc Party, and Vampire Weekend, Bombay Bicycle Club have remained critics’ darlings. They’ve also continued to grow, exploring electronic and dance influences on 2011′s A Different Kind of Fix as well as world influences on 2014′s So Long, See You Tomorrow. Following a three-year hiatus, they delivered the emotionally resonant Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, penning artful post-punk anthems about middle-age and the troubled state of the world. A wry humor, along with guest appearances by Damon Albarn, Holly Humberstone, and others, marked 2023′s My Big Day.
Comprised of singer/guitarist Jack Steadman, guitarist Jamie MacColl, drummer Suren de Saram, and bassist Ed Nash, Bombay Bicycle Club initially formed in Crouch End in 2005 while Steadman, MacColl, and Saram were all students at University College School (attending at the same time as members of Cajun Dance Party). Initially calling themselves the Canals, they adopted different names over the course of the next year until Nash was brought on board in 2006, at which point the fledgling group dubbed themselves Bombay Bicycle Club in reference to an Indian restaurant chain. They entered Virgin Mobile’s “Road to V” battle-of-the-bands contest soon after, a move that would effectively launch them out of obscurity and into the spotlight as one of that year’s most hyped indie acts in Britain. They ended up winning the competition — which in previous years had been won by the likes of Young Knives — and were given a spot opening up V Festival that August.
A flurry of offers from several big labels came in, but Bombay Bicycle Club opted to self-release their first disc on their homegrown label, Mmm.... Produced by Jim Abiss (who’d previously worked with the Arctic Monkeys), Bombay Bicycle Club’s debut EP, The Boy I Used to Be, was released in February 2007; the disc was given a warm critical reception, notably from NME. Another EP, How We Are, was released that October, debuting at the number two spot on the U.K. indie singles chart. The bandmembers graduated upper secondary school the following June, and the rest of their summer was dominated by the release of a new single, “Evening/Morning” (released on the Young and Lost Club label), and a flurry of U.K. tour dates. Teaming up once again with Abiss, they recorded their debut album at Konk Studios that fall.
Bombay Bicycle Club signed with Island Records as 2008 came to a close; their debut full-length on the label, I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose, was released the following summer. The album was well received and helped to win them the Best New Band award at the 2010 NME Awards. In July 2010, Bombay Bicycle Club released their sophomore effort, Flaws, which found the bandmates unplugging their instruments and recording acoustic songs, including a cover of Joanna Newsom’s “Swansea.” The following year, they returned to a fully electric sound with the release of the Abiss-produced A Different Kind of Fix. The plugged-in pop/rock approach was evident on the atmospheric dance-oriented leadoff single, “Shuffle.”
In 2014, Bombay Bicycle Club released the hypnotic So Long, See You Tomorrow, featuring songs influenced by Steadman’s trip through Europe and India. The album reached number one on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart and number 14 on the Alternative Albums chart. Following a tour in support of the record, the group went on an indefinite hiatus in 2016 to focus on personal projects. The following year, Nash released the solo album The Pace of the Passing, under the name Toothless. Steadman also emerged with his own Mr. Jukes project, issuing the LP God First.
The group eventually reunited, and in January 2020 Bombay Bicycle Club returned with their fifth studio album, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong. Produced by Steadman and John Congleton, it found the band ruminating on getting older and hitting middle-age, as well as their concerns over war, the environment, and the seemingly fractious state of the world. Anchored by the emotive single “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You),” it reached number four on the U.K. Albums Chart. A companion EP of acoustic songs, Two Lives, recorded at Steadman’s home, followed that July.
In June 2023, they released the dryly satirical “My Big Day,” as the first single and title track for their sixth album. Arriving in October 2023, My Big Day once again found Steadman handling production duties, along with additional production work from Paul Epworth and mixing by Dave Fridmann. The album also boasted guest contributions by Blur’s Damon Albarn, Holly Humberstone, Jay Som, and others. ~ Matt Collar