The Bicycles

Stop Thinking So Much

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After releasing the best bubblegum-inspired indie pop album ever, 2006's The Good the Bad and the Cuddly, and an almost as impressive but sadder follow-up, 2008's Oh No, It's Love, the Bicycles went on a hiatus that seemed permanent. The Bicycles made lovers of pure pop music happy with the news in 2012 that they were back together with their original lineup and making a new record. Released in 2013, Stop Thinking So Much is a triumphant return that delves lightly into the bubblegummy pop the Toronto group mastered on The Good, but also shows an increase in the maturity and musical expansion that began on Oh No. Once again the bandmembers split songwriting and vocal duties, all proving that they could be fronting their own bands. The different vocal styles (drummer Dana Snell's rich, haunting tones, Drew Smith's polite croon, Andrew Scott's rocker yelp, and Matt Beckett's sweet-as-punch choirboy chirp) blend together perfectly and the songs are a little more all over the map this time, but fit together into a well-crafted whole. Along with a bunch of bouncy indie pop gems and a couple of tender ballads that sound like vintage Bicycles, the newly revitalized group touches on country-rock (the beautiful ballad "Appalachian Mountain Station"), end-of-the-night ballads that come complete with a voice-over ("Bouncing Off the Bay"), guitar-heavy rock & roll ("Break His Hold"), and synthy soft rock that gently grooves like a bedroom Hall & Oates ("Bandana Cat"). They handle all these side roads with aplomb, showing they are more than just a bunch of cuties, but more importantly delivering an album that reveals more pleasures with each spin. It may not have the immediate appeal of their early work, or have the cinematic scope of Oh No, It's Love, but Stop Thinking So Much's direct approach and sonic variety show a band that is growing up gracefully and changing in all the right ways, without losing the core of what made it so much fun in the first place. Plus, it's just nice to have them back again. Let's hope they stick around and crank out more Bicycles-style perfect pop.

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