'Lights Out' review: Bishop Allen reboots

Bishop Allen's "Lights Out." Bishop Allen's "Lights Out." Photo Credit: Dead Oceans

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REVIEW

When Bishop Allen debuted in 2003, the band embodied nearly everything of the moment.

Based in Williamsburg then, Ivy Leaguers Justin Rice and Christian Rudder made twee music about their 20-something lives and released it on their own label. In their spare time, Rice starred in mumblecore movies and Rudder co-founded the online dating service OKCupid.

That much hip simply could not last. And on their fourth album, "Lights Out" (Dead Oceans), Bishop Allen clearly understands that and explains why they're OK with the changes.

"There was everybody getting tired of drinking every night," Rice sings in "Why I Had to Go" over a bouncy synth-pop backdrop. "There was a little left to believe in, which is how I really knew I should be leaving."

In "Start Again," they seem positively thrilled about rebooting their sound into something poppier and more complex. Bishop Allen's songs have always been well crafted about their lives and the lives of their friends. What's different for "Lights Out" is that their music is now as detailed and diverse as their lyrics.

Beck-ish funk makes the list of choices in the sleek "Skeleton Key" feel even more intense. Talking Heads-y world beat makes "Bread Crumbs" sound playful, which makes the lyrics outlining the collapse of a relationship even more striking. But it's the full-steam-ahead "No Conditions" that shows how the reconfigured Bishop Allen has grown stronger and more confident in the five years since its last album.

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"Lights Out" may not be as timely as the previous albums, but that may work in its favor.

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BISHOP ALLEN

"Lights Out"

GRADE A-

BOTTOM LINE Leaving Brooklyn and the twee sound that made them famous for something new.

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