GoGoIndieCritic :: Bishop Allen :: The Broken String

Bishop Allen, indie rock darlings of both bloggers and NPR, followed up their debut pop masterpiece Charm School with an unbelievably ambitious project that saw them independently release an EP every month in 2006, adding up to a total of 58 songs released in a little over a year. Probably the biggest flaw of The Broken String is that ten of the twelve tracks are re-workings of songs from the EP project. However, they are all completely re-recorded, generally with better production value, and generally, sound better. And after such an arduous project, we can hardly blame them for fudging it a bit.

Probably the most disappointing of the re-workings is 'Corazon,' a sweet tune about lead singer Justice Rice finding a used piano on the side of the road and how learning to play it changed his way of writing songs ('So I pulled up the seat/ And I swear, I felt a pulse beneath your keys/ To urge your hammers along, Corazon.') The original recording was driven by the piano, but it becomes something of an afterthought on the new album, only showing up here and there.

Aside from this misstep, the rest of the album finds Bishop Allen doing what they do best - making witty, versatile pop that shifts subtly from whimsical to majestic. For instance, standout track 'Flight 180' starts off quietly droning as Rice sings of the inherent sense of doom and isolation of a plane trip, but then an orchestral build of epic proportions occurs as Rice notices a nervous passenger - 'Now the man in the middle seat/ Recites his times tables audibly/ But I know he means/ "If you feel like dancing/ Dance with me."' It’s moments like this that make the album and remind you just why you like music so damn much.

3.9 out of 5.0

Buy The Broken String here

Bishop Allen's Official Website

Bishop Allen on MySpace

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