Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Image:Ba brokenstring.jpg

Bishop Allen
The Broken String
(Dead Oceans)

The Kinks, the Rolling Stones, some obscure singer-songwriter from the late 60's. Maybe a track sung in a foreign language. Preferably, a romance language. As much as we enjoy the adorable quirkiness, Wes Anderson's soundtracks are getting rather predictable. But had Wes somehow considered a vinyl collection update--and Lord Ray Davies knows he needs one--Bishop Allen's second full-length would serve as a sensible starting point.

The Brooklyn, NY band writes brittle and precious pop music. Their songs are soft and heartfelt without ever resorting to an intentional irony or oddness. In other words, there's no musical equivalent of a Marc Jacobs-Louis Vuitton suitcase.

Despite its accessible breeziness, this sophomore release has been unjustly overlooked but when given the chance, listeners will note that The Broken String would sit quite nicely on the shelves alongside If You're Feeling Sinister. Singer Justin Rice has an imperfect voice, like Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, and sings his Harvard education-informed lyrics with a delivery so likable that the literate songs take on a unpretentious nature. Somehow, Rice still sounds nervous no matter how rehearsed he may be.

The backing band, including Rice's college friend Christian Rudder, count the fiddle, the banjo and the violin as their instrumental arsenal therein injecting a somewhat Americana flavor to the distinctly British chamber pop. You could even call Bishop Allen a modern day Kinks successor. And doesn't that sound like the perfect accompaniment to Jason Schwartzman's shenanigans?

Download "Rain" here

"Click, Click, Click" video


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