Album Reviews

The Bishops – For Now

(W2) UK release date: 2 March 2009

The Bishops - For Now Plain, unassuming factories dot the musical landscape. With familiar plumes of black smoke billowing predictably skyward, and commonplace clanging, dispatched from assembly line machinery, echoing faintly in the distance, these prosaic shops create a remarkably lifeless product – manufactured artistry. London has a few (although comparatively less) such structures, and it would appear that its sons The Bishops have contracted one for its sophomore effort For Now.

Unfortunately, this is not new territory for the trio, as they are no strangers to the pen-by-numbers approach to songcraft. Their eponymous debut showed them to be hell-bent on recreating (as opposed to building upon) the sound defined by pop juggernauts of the 1960s. The Kinks, The Animals, and The Beatles served as inspiration for a collection of rather uninspired, and ultimately forgettable, rock nuggets.

To call For Now yet another recreation of a ’60s-era album would be an insult to most of the work released during that decade. Sure, nostalgia abounds (albeit with a bit more modern sheen), but The Bishops have, in a terrible way, outdone themselves in their songwriting, and have given new meaning to the term ‘autopilot’.

The album is maddeningly dull, with each song proving more formulaic than the last. A nagging sense of déjà uu envelops you as the tracks, ripe with predictable chord changes, overused harmonies, and simplistic guitar solos, pass by in a mercifully short blur.

Although brief tempo departures occur here and there, The Bishops are still resigned to keep their music consistently predictable and unmemorable. Whether it be the very basic whistling that helps introduce Nothing I Can Do or Say, or the chug-a-lug beat of Train Won’t Stop, it’s made clear to the listener that subsequent spins of the record will not garner any new findings.

Even their choice for and approach to a cover, the traditional folk song He Was A Friend Of Mine, lacks any semblance of substance or feeling, and ultimately proves quite tiresome.

The most interesting affiliation to this album is the video for City Lights, which seems to be a clever homage to the 1987 Nintendo video game Rad Racer. It’s a rare acknowledgement from The Bishops that anything of note in pop culture was created in the past forty years, and possibly indicative of their potential to create something less vapid in the future.

From that perspective, then, there is hope. Their website would seem to indicate otherwise, though, as the group appears to be in denial about the present. Below images of the twin brothers attempting their best Jagger pouts are inexplicable references to addictive, vital, and refreshing music. Surely, they must be discussing another group. If not, a dose of humility, along with the antonyms to those adjectives, is in order.

For the time being, the factory is operating at capacity, with nary a move by The Bishops destined to surprise anyone.

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