Same old pop—not that there’s anything wrong with that
“I would choose the darkest horse; that’s the horse I’d ride,” Bishop Allen frontman Justin Rice sings on Grrr...’s opener, “Dimmer.” Judging by his band’s career arc, it’s likely he’s not just spinning a metaphorical yarn about racing animals. Following a couple of acclaimed albums (in 2003 and 2007), an ambitious EP project (one released every month in 2006) and a high-profile film appearance (last year’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), Bishop Allen is a self-made success story. Falling largely within the pleasing indie-pop framework of the band’s previous releases, Grrr... doesn’t exactly pave innovative new ground. In place of the sometimes-raucous tracks of 2007’s The Broken String is a more restrained—but no less sublime—sound, perhaps honed by the band’s relentless touring over the past couple years. Perfectly enunciated lyrics, layered instrumentation, infectious melodies, rinse, repeat. The sound wasn’t broke, so Bishop Allen didn’t bother fixing it.