Bombay Bicycle Club: A Different Kind of Fix (A&M/Octone) 

North London's Bombay Bicycle Club is like that kid in class who makes it all too easy to pick on him. Rarely do American bands get away with the sort of precious, earnest and affected evocation found on BBC's third studio album, A Different Kind of Fix. The young quartet also is a little too smitten by early 1990s indie Britpop—not for nothing did it hire producer Ben H. Allen, who also helmed Washed Out's lauded Within and Without—which places it smack in the Venn diagram overlap of the current shoegaze and dream-pop resurgences. You can add the once-trendy fixations with harmonizing and Anglo folk-pop to the list of sonic appropriations as well.

Despite the tendency to tear BBC apart for these clichéd transgressions, you easily befriend it. For A Different Kind compels an immediate repeat listen after the first, and increasingly sticks with each one after that. You may not relate to its second-adolescence twee or head-in-the-clouds effervescence, but you'll succumb to its immersive atmospherics and assured (though hardly assertive) grooves. It's also impeccably crafted and layered with melody upon melody. The verses are often as seductive as the choruses, such as opening track "How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep," kicked off with a folky acoustic arpeggio.

Elsewhere, guitars effortlessly interlock (see "Lights Out, Words Gone"); Jack Steadman's vocal melodies syncopate with instead of overpower Jamie MacColl's lead guitar (especially on "Your Eyes"); and seemingly everyone piles on the rhythm (the jaunty, impossibly gleeful "Shuffle"). These feats make Bombay Bicycle Club hard to judge and easy to love.


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