I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose was one of the best albums of 2009, if not the best. Raw, energetic, heavy and utilising the beautiful and vulnerable vocals of Jack Steadman, tracks such as Always Like This proved that the very young band had some very, very exciting potential. Whilst I felt hugely encouraged by this first, and lets face it, incredible effort, there was some anxiety brought on by their bringing out a second album just a year later. Surely such a new and young band could not so quickly release another effort that would in any way equal their exciting debut.
Flaws, is however, a beautiful album and a highlight of the year. Gone are the heavy guitars and beats. Instead the tracks are quiet and acoustic, apparently created entirely in Steadman’s bedroom emphasising that the band are not just a one trick pony. They have grown and developed from their raucous debut, and are obviously hugely talented. It was a very bold move to record an album like this, and it’s very surprising how successful it is. Whilst in the hands of some, songs such as Many Ways or Ivy and Gold could be twee to the point of excruciating, but for me it is Steadman’s voice that keeps it just shy of that. The gentle breaking vulnerability of the vocal, and the very gentle picking of guitars make it heartbreakingly appealing. The new version of Dust on the Ground from the first album highlights the poetic lyrics, and gives it an entirely new meaning. Whilst the original is all brash and angry sounding, here it is all delicacy and hurt. It works, it really does.
The whole album speaks of a band of young guys who are finding their feet, having a go at things, and proving they are diverse and exciting. They seem to have a maturity beyond their years which has enabled them to take their raw talent and create something that is entirely different but still as beautiful. Comparisons to Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons are too easy and don’t give enough credit to a band who have managed to master two very different sides of their personality. I would defy either of the two aforementioned bands to come out with an album so contrary to their first efforts which works so well.
I look forward to their next effort, which will no doubt be very soon, and just as good. Bloody kids.
Words: Alexia Smith
Listen: BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB – Flaws