I saw these guys open for John Vanderslice in Seattle at Club Neumos, and I'm sorry John, but these guys stole the show. What an album. I know it has been compiled from their impressive EP-a-month project, but whatever did it, this is one of my top 10 of 2007, up there with Boxer, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Sky Blue Sky et al.
"The Monitor" requires singing along throughout. The drums draw you in, and the pianos keep you there. Find yourself singing "carried on, carried on, carried on/singing la-da-da-da-la-de-da" over and over. Perfectly blending into track 2, "Rain" is one of the best on the album. Full of promise and inspiring lyrics. Great little bit of guitar work, matching the non-stop vocals in the verses. Listen repeatedly. This also blends right into "Click, Click, Click, Click", a smoothed out/ crooned out track. Nice and memorable and cheery, ala happy Wilco, any Rogue Wave, among others. This song holds it own among anything I've heard this year. Perfectly produced. Actually, this album needs no volume adjustments, just sit back and enjoy the mastered equalization. "The Chinatown Bus" employs a drum track that carries this beautiful song along, like a non-annoying "Hey There Delilah". Love the horns that come in after the bridge and the flute at the end. "Flight 180" is totally sedated at first, but penetrates thru regardless, due to the true passion and pain that radiate from the singer.
"Like Castanets" should be viewed as the start to Part 2. A little bit of a country element, and a smoothness that is unmatched. Great percussion and controlled melody. Nothing here grates... the song soothes, even when the mexican-sounding horn section takes over. One of the best on the album. "Buttefly Nets" features a guest female vocal and a nice sax section, and does not sound out of place. It adds to the notion that this album is its own atmosphere, not focusing on any one member or identity. The song reminds me of Architecture in Helsinki's first 2 albums. "Shrinking Violet" is a short/soft/sweet song, accomplishing much in less than 2 minutes. "Corazon" starts with haunting vocals and percussion, then cues even more haunting chords, before bringing in the drums and instantly becoming a classic. The bassline sounds like "I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon. Wow, this one gets better each second that goes by. "Middle Management" picks up the pace and starts with a shouting "Alright!", and worked well in concert, but only --alright-- here. "Choose Again" returns Bishop Allen to form with some touching lyrics, "If at first you don't choose right, choose again/Oh my son you're a sorry sight, choose again". Great piano work after the second chorus. Verse 3 starts passionately, with the line "Heaven ain't got no place for me, but there's plenty of beds in hell". "The News from Your Bed" is the conclusion, and is a fun piece of music/piano. Great way to end a distinctive album.
Bishop Allen and The Broken String is a piece of music to be experienced thru and thru over and over again. Amazing that the songs all fit together, since they were all pulled from prior EP's. Can't wait to see what they do with their next album.