Bishop Allen is a reasonably charming new act, fond of understatement and catchy little hooks. I hesitate to start telling you what they sound like, because I sometimes doubt they were seriously influenced by anyone but themselves; nevertheless as a reviewer it's my duty to try and put them into context for you. Like many artists of recent years (They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies) they seem to have taken the route of being half-comical, aren't-we-quirky little artists rather than attempting to inspire awe (a la U2 or other inflated egos.) The lead singer sounds a bit like Jonathan Richman from his "Ice Cream Man" era, quiet and gentle and perhaps singing less well than he could if he weren't trying to be a bit quirky. (It's hard to say.) Indeed, it is this album's very understatement and excessive lack of ambition that grate on the nerves a bit. It was apparently recorded in apartments with drums (real ones made to sound digitally slick) and a few guitars, as well as some female backup singers who chime in, close-miked and shy, with even less energy than the lead singer. I cannot detect a hint of reverb in any of the mixes. The overall effect is still professional but mostly these are this-is-who-we-are-take-it-or-leave-it-little-fun-ditties-this-could-be-you-and-your-college-buddies-ha-ha. By taking this route I wonder if they are selling themselves just a little bit short. There are some good hooks here, particularly in "Things Are What You Make Of Them" with its chorus canon, that probably could have been made into better recordings with more energy and polish. Pop ditties alone can be catchy but often require production to give them a little kick, because as songs they aren't particularly meaningful. Maybe Bob Dylan can sit down and do a pared-down song and it will be great, but the same couldn't be said of most light pop hits. Look for more fun from Bishop Allen in the future, but hopefully they will find the guts to give their little vision a bigger voice.