The Harvard grads who decided to scrap their multi-thousand dollar educations to become musicians (who thought that would ever work?) released their album GRRRR… on Dead Oceans on April 17th and I’ve got to give it to them, these guys can create a catchy tune or two. Definite “home runs” on the new album which features thirteen tracks include “The Ancient Commonsense Of Things”, “The Magpie”, “Dirt On Your New Shoes”, and “Don’t Hide Away”, in that order. The band’s sixties pop sound gets props for its Caribbean flavor with maracas and xylophone on “The Ancient Commonsense Of Things”, including cutesy hooks that make the song that much more worthy of head-bopping and sing-alongs during a summertime drive that ends in surf, sun, and fun. The lyrical spectrum slides from eerily childlike in “The Lion And The Teacup” to darkly ironic in “Rooftop Brawl” and then settles down to witty breakup banter in “Don’t Hide Away”. Bishop Allen has got talent, pep, and a wide range of instrumentals that include timpani, violins, piano, and xylophone: a varied orchestra that works for their sound and makes me believe in bands that consist of more than guitar n’ bass.
While Bishop Allen lights up my pale, cold skin with their bursting sunlight, at times it’s almost too much to handle. Twee tunes and xylophone plunking is cute and with great lyrics it’s awesome, but I want to see what else they can do. The best judgment of what these guys can offer down the road was the emotional, dark tune, “The Magpie”. This song best blends the duo’s double talents with the hook, “You’ll never get back what the Magpie took”, and illustrates a traumatic subject into something weirdly relatable. Their take on a deeper and darker tone reminds me that Bishop Allen can branch out of their flower power craze, but if they’re already doing it so well, why should they? All in all, this is a great “wake-up time” album for sunny days in convertibles with intellectuality to boot. The catchy tunes and bright poppy gee-tars accompanying almost every song will make even the most depressed emo kid start tapping his foot. Well done.