The Bicycles – “Bandana Cat”
The Bicycles are a jubilant group with a penchant for the past. Their sunshine-filled press photos are reminiscent of those from ’70s pop stars; no one would be surprised to see The Osmonds pose for a similarly executed baseball shot, wide smiles and all. This sort of lovey-dovey ’70s pastiche was echoed in the ’90s by power-pop heroes Jellyfish, who crafted an incredibly addictive attack of wailing guitars, fleeting keys, and Beach Boys-inspired harmonies… with their own unique contemporary twist. The Bicycles seem to be re-spawning that methodology. The Canadian five-piece produces an effervescent vein of power-pop that merges aspects of the ’70s and ’90s, resulting in a more satisfying and fuller sound than their twee-pop origins. Recently, their traversing into other genres has been evident, thanks to a collection of stylistically eclectic members that infuse everything from funk-addled yacht-rock to country ballads.
After a three-year hiatus, The Bicycles have returned with Stop Thinking So Much, their first album since 2008’s Oh No It’s Love. The band claims that the album, out on April 2nd, sheds “their old DIY process” and results in a “warm, hi-fi album.” Judging by a handful of released tracks, that seems to be the case. “Bandana Cat” is a particularly exciting effort. It evolves from Super Nintendo-esque chiptune warbles into a lavishly constructed fusion of doo-wop, funk, and pop music. The chorus features a smooth, funk-tinged array of synth-bass and background harmonizing; it’s not too different from Dent May’s work. It’s also a fine example of the styles displayed throughout Stop Thinking So Much, an album whose charm is hard to resist. As opposed to most groups who struggle to sound cohesive with stylistically diverse members, the smorgasbord of approaches on a track like “Bandana Cat” is an example of The Bicycles’ biggest strength: their tendency to remain accessible despite uncharted twists and turns.