Bishop Allen: “The Same Fire”

For those of you who don’t follow Bishop Allen’s career like it’s a religion, let me recap the past couple years: band releases one of the best albums of this decade, Charm School, band tours, band writes follow-up album, Clementines, and while shopping for a label for said album, band decides to put out an EP every month for 2006.They just put “June” up for purchase/download and it’s every bit as good as you could hope.

On “March,” Bishop Allen wrote about The Monitor and the factory that birthed it. Shortly thereafter (May 2nd, I think) it burned down in a giant fire. Now they’ve taken that and used it as fuel for their creative fire, penning a song about the tragedy.

MP3: Bishop Allen – The Same Fire
Much like “The Monitor,” “The Same Fire” continues one of Bishop Allen’s strongest skills. The song is about something grounded in the physical world, yes, but the real meat of the song is how that applies to their personal life. Justin cries out during this chorus, “This is the same fire that you light in me.” It’s a great parallel to draw, and one that gets tighter as the song continues.

Musically, “The Same Fire” is an interesting bundle of notes. The verses are catchy and well thought out, but the chorus leaves a little to be desired (like “Vain”). The instrumentation is wonderful, and at times harkens back to their Charm School days with xylophones and the like.

But the where this song really wins me over happens towards the end. After an excellent harmonica bridge, lead singer Justin Rice kicks into a litany of famous fires (incl. “the library of Alexandria and all of Rome at least twice”) before saying that he will “burn through it all unharmed” for his loved one. It’s a sweet sentiment and provides a good launching place for the closing cries that echo the chorus.

The amazing thing is that none of it seems forced. You’d think that after five months they’d be ready to auto-pilot it, but not these guys. Their songs are as fresh as they were in 2003.

Bishop Allen on Myspace
Buy “June” or any other EPs (I suggest starting with Feb, May, or Jan)

BONUS MP3: Bishop Allen – Little Black Ache (from Charm School)
BONUS MP3: Bishop Allen – Corazon (from “January”)
BONUS MP3: Bishop Allen – Vain (from “February”)
BONUS MP3: Bishop Allen – The Monitor (from “March”)
BONUS MP3: Bishop Allen – Flight 180 (from “April”)
BONUS MP3: Bishop Allen – Butterfly Nets (from “May”)

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