It is a brave or stupid musician that names their album Flaws. There is an unwritten rule in the art world that when naming your piece – whether it be an album, film, collection of squiggly lines on canvas, new book or whatever – you do not give it a title that in any way could be quoted by a critic against you. It’s admittedly a hard challenge to set yourself – especially when publications such as The Sunday Times’ Culture magazine make such an art-form out of Title Reversal. Check any of the film reviews in the weekly television schedules. The film A Shot At Glory was recently derided as being ‘wide off the mark’. John Cusack’s 2005 film Must Love Dogs was described as ‘lacking pedigree’.
And so Bombay Bicycle Club, who have named their recent album Flaws have essentially come out to the world as either brave, or stupid. If FFS had to take a guess, we’d choose brave. After all, it’s one thing to give your album a critic-baiting title, but it’s quite another to swerve dramatically away from the relatively impressive fan-base built up by your first album by releasing your second in an entirely different style. It was just last summer that the band’s debut, the sparky, full-bodied I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose was released. Now, a year later, Flaws demonstrates a very different side of the band. More thoughtful, perhaps, than before, songs such as ‘Leaving Blues’ rely less on the livelier sound of before and more on a reflective, lyric-focused direction. Occasionally the tracks are hard to separate from one another, sounding similar if only in the gently picked guitars that populate the background throughout. Regardless, the album is endlessly listenable – notable without being invasive, happy to settle in the background and be the soundtrack to your day, rather than a leading plot-point.
The highlight of the album, however, is undoubtedly the catchy lead single ‘Ivy and Gold’, which manages to stay true to the rest of the album whilst enthusiastically chugging along. If the rest of the album was as fun as ‘Ivy and Gold’, the band would have a guaranteed crossover hit on their hands. As it is, the record lends itself to a more relaxed soul, but does so wonderfully. According to the band, their next album will be a return to the electric sound of their first. To use the cheeky critic’s device, this is the only flaw in their plan.