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    Album Review | Indie Pop

    Bishop Allen, ‘Lights Out’

    Matt Petricone

    The young women on the cover of Bishop Allen’s new album have the right idea. The photo captures them in motion, arms flailing as if they’re about to jump for joy. I like to imagine they’re on a trampoline, trying to get as high as they can.

    That’s the overwhelming sensation of “Lights Out,” a power-pop record that’s unfussy in its pursuit of jingle-jangle melodies and circular choruses that linger long after they’re over. Right out of the gate, with “Start Again,” the album trades on a cavalier sense of playfulness, somewhere between the Feelies and Belle & Sebastian.

    The band — named after Bishop Allen Drive, the Cambridge street where founding members Justin Rice and Christian Rudder once lived after graduating from Harvard — sounds so assured that it’s hard to believe this is Bishop Allen’s first album since 2009’s “Grrr. . .,” its third full-length release and second on the Dead Oceans label.


    A lot happened in those intervening years. The band uprooted from Brooklyn to Kingston, N.Y., and, perhaps most important, scored two films (“Bully” and “Mutual Friends”). A cinematic sheen informs a number of these new songs, from the slinky chug of “Skeleton Key” to the girl-group bittersweetness of “Black Hole,” with Darbie Nowatka on lead vocals. Her dreamy delivery, particulary on the closing acoustic ballad “Shadow,” recalls wispy ’60s singers such as Claudine Longet.

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    “How long do you have to hammer the nail,” they wonder aloud on “Hammer and Nail,” “before you finally figure out/ If you’ve succeeded or failed?” It’s a fleeting moment of doubt on an album so fully sure of itself and its makers. (Out Tuesday)

    James Reed

    ESSENTIAL “Hammer and Nail”

    Bishop Allen plays at the Middle East Downstairs on Wednesday.