Imagine taking Justin Vernon out of Bon Iver and replacing him with a female English vocalist; the results would probably sound akin to Bombay Bicycle Club’s backing vocalist’s, Lucy Rose, most recent independent release, Like I Used To.
Lucy Rose entered the music world on drums, but transitioned to guitar and songwriting in grade school, only to perform live during her college years. At this time she met Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club, appearing on Flaws and A Different Kind of Fix.
Rose’s latest release certainly has the musings of a post break-up album, but not in the sense that we’ve been commonly accustomed to. Comparable to Eels’s Electro-Shock Blues, Like I Used To begins to radiate a more optimistic view about halfway through the album, especially around the track “Be Alright,” where Rose begins to recognize that life goes on from whatever hardships she experienced in the past. “Bikes” is also surprisingly optimistic, also including a striking xylophone solo, reminiscent of when The White Stripes released Get Behind Me Satan, surprising everyone with xylophone features on the album.
The album doesn’t start out this way, however. Rose begins the album with “Red Face,” a track lamenting her relationship’s recent split. As the rhythm guitar breaks through the track it reveals Rose as less desperate and more accepting of the recent occurrences. This is certainly not your typical break-up album.
Rose’s musicality in the studio is, honestly, somewhat lacking. Most of the Middle of the Road consists of a simple acoustic guitar, with the occasional rhythm breakdown. Rose truly shines in concert though. Often accompanied by Björn Ågren, Sam Nadel, and Simba Bhebhe, the four create an incredible performance with a Jack White-esque rhythm guitar and grooving bass-lines. Combine these musicians together and Lucy Rose transforms from simply a female Bon Iver, into a sound not unlike Battles’ Gloss Drop album with an additional female vocalist. Lucy Rose’s live performance is able to win over a suspicious audience with the tip of a hat; many shows start slowly, but by the end, the audience wants an encore from the opening act themselves.
For a debut album, Middle of the Road is brilliant, yet it doesn’t quite set Lucy Rose as a master of her art form. Regardless, it is safe to assume that there will be more quality material produced by Rose and her gang of musicians in the future. Rose’s live performance though is truly spectacular, out-performing the studio album by a long shot.
by Zach Gordon