The Bicycle Thief – You Come and Go Like a Pop Song

The Bicycle Thief
You Come and Go Like a Pop Song

A while back, I wrote a column for my semi-regular Unappreciated Album of the Month feature about Thelonious Monster. I knew almost nothing about Thelonious Monster, other than the singer of that band, Bob Forrest, writes about the best lyrics that I had heard. Oh, I know. You read a lot of reviews of emo bands on these pages, and surely they write intense and passionately personal lyrics. But Forrest seems to have had a private screening of my life, and he puts the thoughts I have to words. That’s an amazing thing to find.
So The Bicycle Thief is Forrest’s new band, and he wrote all the lyrics and sings on them in his slightly off-kilter, almost breaking voice. The Bicycle Thief is similar to Thelonious Monster in that band’s very rocking sound, slightly southern rock sound. These songs do rock, with plenty of guitar and a most impressive drummer, but their focus is still Forrest’s lyrics, just where the focus belongs.
The album starts with “Hurt,” a bitterly in-your-face song about protecting oneself against being hurt, and it brings to mind why I love Forrest’s lyrics so well. I can relate completely. Lyrics aside, this song is pretty damn cool, rocking in a slightly southern sort of way with the most intense drumming and some wailing electric guitar. “Rainin’ (4AM)” reminds me why I liked Thelonious Monster. A heavily acoustic guitar-driven song with a very light sound, the lyrics are less than light. “Well everybody needs someone to run to when they’re tired and scared / Me…I run to no one / And everybody’s got got a dream they believe in / let me tell you somethin’ / me…I believe in nothing.” “Aspirations” is still the best song here, even with its radio-friendly precision. Forrest’s voice is perfect here, not breaking at all, and the chorus of “Well let’s just get stoned, let’s just get stoned and watch TV” over rocking guitars and flailing drumming is pretty damn cool. “Macarthur Park Revisited” is another incredibly good and catchy song that is more pop than anything else, with some great percussion and a catchy chorus you’ll find yourself singing. “It’s Alright” is another cool song, starting behind a wash of sonic guitar noise and breaking into this hybrid of Neil Young meets Sonic Youth style that’s pretty damn cool. “Cereal Song” has much less of a southern sound and a very straight-forward, very tight and precise sound to it that works quite well. And the album ends with the bitter-sweet, very mellow “Boy at a Bus Stop,” which features Forrest voice, soft acoustic guitar, light piano and cello, and it’s so pretty.
Some of The Bicycle Thief’s songs are a bit tough for me to get into, primarily because their style of southern-tinged guitar rock just isn’t what I’m into right now. I hear a lot of similarities to the style of rock The Wallflowers had been playing, perhaps with a dose of Lynyrd Skynyrd mixed in. “Max, Jill Called” is extremely infectious and has a great rhythm, but it took many listens before I could appreciate the music. “L.A. Country Hometown Blues” is another one, with twangy guitars and vocals that just feel down-home and almost country-sounding.
Admittedly, some of you might not appreciate The Bicycle Thief. It feels very much like it would have a lot of success on the radio. But, then, it probably won’t, because it’s too damn good. Bob Forrest is a genius when it comes to writing lyrics that are straight-forward and so personal yet relate so well. He writes about real-life things, real issues and tough times, and the music backing it up is perfect for his story-telling vocals. This is nice stuff, worth getting even just for the lyrics.