Harvard graduates Bishop Allen release their summery second album Grrr... at just the wrong time of year.
Grrr... isn't much of a growl. This is sugary folk-pop, perfectly ripe for advertising execs to exploit. It recalls a gruffer Aberfeldy huddled around the microphone, confused and trapped somewhere between their first two records. The instrumentation is dominated by an enthusiasm for brashly-strummed banjos, ukeleles and all things acoustic, and this results in a bright tweeness lacking in any genuine feeling. With everything at the same shiny volume throughout, a plastic grin seems plastered on Bishop Allen's faces. True or False is a bouncy full-band interpretation of Allo Darlin's tender quaintness, and lyrics spill over with pronounced rhymes and cute referencing. A good ear for tunes means that the pleasant outnumber the bad, but merely pleasant they remain. Perhaps the overly summery nature of the record in the cold and snow feels obtuse, but Grrr... is neither exciting nor involving. [Jamie Scott]