clear blue or green flexi
For such a short EP, By Bike is a rather beguiling release. Only three tracks long, the Belgians’ debut studio release is a charmingly energetic piece yet somewhat two-sided – underneath the outward optimism, a more morose angle can be seen with only a slight adjustment in approach.
This somewhat misleading brightness is best seen in closer ‘Rainy’. Opening with a simple acoustic strumming pattern, the guitars brim with a kind of sunny jangle that carries an air of intrinsic pleasantness with it. A short while in the vocals start, a clean mid-ranged style with just the faintest hint of a husk, and without listening to closely despite the track title the atmosphere feels warm, nostalgic even. This feel is maintained, even enhanced, as the track morphs into a livelier pop-punk number; yet, a more bittersweet edge is found as soon as the lyrics are listened to more closely. Detailing the passing wisdom of a dying elderly woman, despite carrying an ultimately positive message the strings of compassion are played on, and carries some potent, if somewhat straightforward imagery to make its case.
Perhaps it’s this mixture of the light and the not-so-light which gives By Bike its endearing character. The superficially happy patina means that this works for those sunny days off, yet scrape it off and a more bittersweet character emerges. It may not be so different from other emo revival groups in this aspect, but as a package it’s well executed and leaves a surprisingly large impression for such a small work.