Bishop Allen: Lights Out (2014)
Can't say I know a whole lot about 'em, but apparently a couple Harvard guys (which, as a Princeton grad, I'm willing to overlook) quietly releasing understated bedroom pop records. This one, their fourth (and at least as of today, last), is guitar & synth driven, full of gentle hooks, with some occasional boy-girl harmonies (featuring co-founder Justin Rice's wife Darbie Nowatka) that give it a charming kick.
The album is front-loaded with its best track up leading off, the insistent earworm "Start Again," one of those instantly infectious tracks you end up throwing on every last mixtape/playlist you'll make from here on in. Nothing else quite achieves the same level of power pop greatness, but a few others stand out: "Crows" has a nice little Caribbean shuffle, Jimmy Buffett-styled yacht rock for the Vampire Weekend set; "Give It Back" reprises the opening track's chipper pop, with a bit more new wave synth hook; "Black Hole" is a sweet little ballad that gives Nowatka a turn on lead vox; "Skeleton Key" is a bit of a retro pop thing, bringing to mind the Apples in Stereo by way of Beck; "Good Talk" is relentlessly catchy; "No Conditions" starts off slow and breaks into a catchy bit of upbeat Shoes-like new wave power pop.
Sometimes they push farther into synth-pop retro new-wave territory than I'm into (i.e. "Bread Crumbs"), but for the most part it's comfortably chipper pop music with a more finished feel than comparable DIY projects.
Here's the video for "Start Again":