Broken String [CD]
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Ah, Bishop Allen… You make me so happy with your upbeat, shimmering delight. I’ve been meaning to blog about these guys for a while, but it has taken me longer than I expected to get into the whole blogging thing.

After spending an entire year releasing and EP a month, Bishop Allen has released “The Broken String” (buy the EPs and the new LP here), a compilation of some of the best racks from their EPs. Some of the tracks have been re-recorded, accompanying 3 new tracks, including the first single, “Rain”:

Bishop Allen – “Rain” [mp3] [] [Buy]

“Rain” is a glorious slice of indie pop. It is a relentlessly upbeat and sunny, showcasing the huge improvement Christian Rudder’s songcraft has made over the course of 12 EPs. Rudder is confidant and precise in his delivery, and the backing vocals and harmonies are deliberately and skillfully placed, creating a beautiful, catchy and enjoyable song. The icing on the cake is the conga drums the consistently shine through, serving to keep the track light-hearted and fun.

The LP, on the other hand, stumbles right out of the blocks. “The Monitor”, originally from the March EP, is one of the re-recorded tracks, and has been rearranged and the orchestration expanded. The spare and slowly building beginning doesn’t grab my attention until nearly 2 minutes into the song. The diffusion of counterpoint during the chorus also dispels much of the charm the original recording contained.

The same fate belies “Corazon”, the centerpiece of the the January EP. Originally a tightly wound head-bobbing classic, Rudder again stripped the song and rearranged it. Though the beginning, artistically speaking, parallels the lyrics much more effectively by expressing the beating “heart” of the piano the song is focused on, like “The Monitor”, it fails to keep my attention until the drums enter 45 second into the track. Even after that point the many attempts to make the orchestration in “Corazon” only serve to reduce its impact.

But all is not lost, friends! Most of the other tracks included from the EPs retain their original brilliance, including “Click, Click, Click, Click” and “Butterfly Nets”. A new song, “Middle Management”, is a raucous hark back to their first LP, “Charm School”, with loose, punchy, distorted guitar propelling the song to its end. Overall, the disc is a solid attempt to forge an identity for a band from its previous EPs (much like Voxtrot’s debut LP), though often the attempts to increase the complexity of older songs result in diminishing returns.

Bishop Allen – “Click, Click, Click, Click” [mp3] [] [Buy]

(mp3s via