Last year, Brooklyn's Bishop Allen set out to do the ludicrous: write, record and ship a four-song EP every month. Glitches ensued, predictably, and lead guitarist Christian Rudder even put off his honeymoon, but they did it, landing a deal with new Austin label Dead Oceans. First fruit The Broken String is largely composed of songs from those EPs, reworked in the studio to generally lesser effect. It may just be a case of falling in love with the originals, but the songs have lost the unpolished spontaneity that made them so much fun in the first place. The lyrics remain too serious by half ("I had ducked out of the rain into Maria's wedding day / And I sat there with her friends and with her family / And I was happy," from "Click, Click, Click, Click"), but the originals charmed with poppy, inventive instrumentation. Yet opener "The Monitor" feels stripped down, with 15 seconds of barely audible strumming inexplicably tacked on to the front end. Rousing closer "The News From Your Bed" has been enhanced by vocal harmonies, suggesting that this deadly serious band needs more pizzazz, not less.
Bishop Allen plays a happy-hour show at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at the Proletariat, 903 Richmond, 713-523-1199.
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