My love affair with Bishop Allen started before their stint in 2008’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. It was their tune “Butterfly Nets” which got me hooked. I fell in love with the lyrics first, like any hopeless romantic would, but the simple melody and the whimsical nature of the song kept me coming back to it, time after time.
After a five year wait, Bishop Allen returned this month with Lights Out, a dance party inducing album filled with such well-produced songs that prove intelligent pop music is not dead. From the onset, this album gets toes tappin’ with single, “Start Again,” which is the perfect windows-down, hair-blown-back-in-the-breeze summer freedom song. “Crows” has a great Calypso beat juxtaposed with some heavy lyrics (“hey did you give up your friends / to pillage and plunder / with lightning and thunder again”). The wail of the guitars on “No Show” that scream around the straightforward vocals of Justin Rice are explosive. The catchy and quirky tunes “Skeleton Key” and “Bread Crumbs” get me off the wall and dancing before I can remember I don’t dance. Darbie Nowatka’s warm voice rings out on “Black Hole,” but it’s album closer “Shadow” that I keep pressing repeat on.
Throughout, the album is dappled with interesting instrumental breaks that build intellectually, meriting multiple listens just to hear everything that’s happening therein. Couple that powerful composition with Bishop Allen’s notable lyricism and the playful trade-off between Rice and Nowatka’s vocals, and you have an album that will easily rise to the top of those coveted year end lists.