I’ll admit that Bishop Allen’s sophomore LP, Grrr…, was my first exposure to their music. So this is a standalone review and I won’t be drawing any comparisons to their previous LP or countless EPs. For those who are not familiar with the band, it is comprised primarily of Justin Rice and Christian Rudder, but supported by a group of rotating members. They derived their name from Bishop Allen Drive in Cambridge Massachusetts, where the two lived after college.
I’m sure anyone who has fallen into the abyss that is “indie music” has at one point become rather jaded by it all. If you listen to as much music as I do, at some point you’re going to become a harsher critic simply as a means of filtration. You’ll go through band after band and wonder, “IS THERE NO ONE ELSE!?” As a result, I simply couldn’t get into this album because it didn’t add anything to music. It simply sounded like a cheap knock off of a bunch of other already existing bands.
If you love super happy/poppy music, then this might be for you. Opening track, “Dimmer,” pretty much sets the mood of the album and not much changes after that. So if you’re like me, it ends up just sounding somewhat obnoxious. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tolerable album, but it is JUST THAT—tolerable. It doesn’t attempt to be anything more or different. It doesn’t even attempt to be commercial so you can think to yourself, “Well, maybe these guys just want to feed themselves.” All in all, I could get by without ever listening to it again.
But of course, I can’t just leave you without some sort of commentary on the actual songs. Everytime I listened I kept waiting for something to happen or at least one song to stand out. The following are the few random things that actually did stand out to me:
The fact that they sing “it was an endless filibuster” in “Shanghaied.” They actually managed to use filibuster in a song and that, in my opinion, is pretty rad. The song itself conjures images of a bunch of soldiers (or drunken pirates?) marching and singing and I find it somewhat amusing.
The intro to “Cue the Elephants” really grabs your attention but it lasts about 10 seconds and then it just sounds like any other song.
“True or False” actually has female vocals and I find that it suits their music well and they could have definitely used more. It gives them a Rilo Kiley-esque sound and I’m a personal fan.
That about sums it all for me. I can say without a doubt that I will never listen to this album again unless I’m strapped to a chair and forced to. Not because it absolutely sucks, but with the limitless number of options available to me, this album made no effort to say, “Pick me!”