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Bishop Allen: The Broken String

B+

Bishop Allen

Album: The Broken String
Label: Dead Oceans

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Like fellow indie tunesmiths Stephin Merritt and Sufjan Stevens, Bishop Allen's Justin Rice and Christian Rudder get inspired by forcing themselves to be prolific. Last year the Harvard-bred duo put aside its belated follow-up to 2003's self-released Charm School and set about recording a different EP each month. Bishop Allen ended up with four albums worth of new material, and The Broken String is a greatest hits sampler of sorts, with nine reworked tracks from the EPs plus a handful of new songs. And it really is great, striding confidently from one high point to the next, with expansive yet homemade-sounding folk-rock songs like "Click, Click, Click, Click" and "Corazon" oozing scruffily charming earnestness. Sometimes quality and quantity can coexist nicely.