This is one of those bands that, if people don’t go out and check them out, I’d consider it a tragedy. Describing bicycle, however, is a monumental task. There are so many different influences and aspects of this band that it’s nearly impossible to nail them all, and as nearly every song is completely different from the next, the task becomes even greater. But, at a basic level, bicycle is a hundred different ways of looking at pop. Effects are used in plenty fashion, a drum machine helps along with the beat, a hip-hop influence shines through on the larger portion of the tracks, and the vocals range from dreamy melodic to a dry and quickly-paced lyrical whirlwind.
The first two tracks off this self-titled montage, “68” and “Daisydunes.com,” sound like the best works of G Love, with harmonica, folkish guitar, funky basslines, sampling, and all. The lyrical patterns of these tunes are just brilliant, with a rap/hip-hop feel while still maintaining that poppy melody. After that, the album takes a number of turns, with straight-up pop-rock songs (“All of Her Chords”), and a mixture of rock-n-roll choruses and Beck/”Loser”-influenced verses (“Bionic”). There’s the acoustic Ben Lee-esque “Oh Jesus I’m Dying,” with some absolutely bizarre backup singers, and a modernized version of Pink Floyd with “Earthquake.”
The Presidents of the United States of America’s Chris Ballew produced the album, sporadically adding his musical and vocal talents as well. With fourteen tracks that amazingly sound so completely different yet all distinctly bicycle, there’s really absolutely no way to lose. These songs took time and thought to put together, and all that careful construction is heard and appreciated as each track is a gem all its own. The mini-bio that came with the album claimed that bicycle was “one of the best pop records to come out in the last decade.” I can’t really disagree.
Capricorn Records, 2205 State Street, Nashville, TN 37203