Review of The Bishops album 'For Now'
It's not as if the music industry is short of bands that cite The Beatles, the most successful band of all time, as a major influence. But here come The Bishops regardless. Or rather, here they come again, as this is the second album from the London trio. If you missed them the first time around; they dress smartly and pitch somewhere between The Kinks and The Coral: straightforward pop music layered with harmonies so tight you couldn't squeeze a thing between them.
The whole production package on 'For Now' is similarly tight, the monochromatic sleeve to be expected in true retro styling, though the need to print the lyrics word for word when a lot of them are 'ohs' and 'yeahs' is rather questionable. They certainly look the part; sartorial elegance is not in short supply, but what The Bishops seem to really lack is soul. Their music, whilst arguably not unlistenable, it is pretty sterile: Plundering a style of musical greats but without much imagination. 'City Lights' fades out mid-track, seemingly before the band are even finished with it. 'Hold On' and 'Laughter in The Dark' are ok, but many songs on the album sort of plod along without much drive. They can play their instruments and sing in key - which is more than some bands can do - but come across as style over substance.
Perhaps the final nail in the coffin is their cover of the traditional blues song 'He Was A Friend Of Mine,' which is recalled most famously from Bob Dylan's eponymous debut. Ironically, this was Dylan's 'covers' album, which saw him before he was a songwriter with an established back catalogue. His version was not musically perfect (really not), but it managed to retain a sense of what the song was about - the death of a dear friend. The Bishops take it and make it tune perfect, but in doing so manage to remove the song's pathos completely. The cover misses the point entirely - after all, it's called the blues for a reason.
All in all, this only seeks to prove that it's not enough just to be influenced by greats, after all every band can be just that. It's what you do with it counts and The Bishops don't attempt much.