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Bloomsbury - EP

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Album Review

It's no easy task to approach Princeton's sophomore EP, Bloomsbury, without at least a hint of apprehension. It's enough that they've named themselves after an Ivy League university, but when it turns out that they've made an album about the Bloomsbury Group (that is, the London-based circle of artists, thinkers, and literati that included Leonard and Virginia Woolf) — well, it just seems a little on the pretentious side, to put it mildly. Thankfully, Princeton manage to sweep all these worries away with the playful opening strains of "The Waves," and when all's said and done this little 13-minute disc turns out to be a thoroughly enjoyable EP, spilling over with sweet, memorable pop hooks and heady with informed, refined multi-instrumental flourishes. Sound-wise, Princeton is fairly difficult to pin down; if you had to sum it up in one word, it would be "informed." The tropicalia and African-infused indie pop of "The Waves" nods to Vampire Weekend, while the genteel, Kinks-influenced chamber pop of "Mrs. Bentwich" seems to place them in league with Sufjan Stevens (and maybe even Wes Anderson). In any event, you don't have to think too hard about what Princeton's influences are or what it is they're singing about in order to enjoy Bloomsbury. "Leonard Woolf," with its easy breezy flutes and surprisingly poignant crescendo finds Princeton at their sweet, exuberant best. No matter how literate they are, Princeton have a real knack at crafting fun pop songs, and this is ultimately what makes Bloomsbury a promising disc.

Biography

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Princeton formed in 2005 when twin brothers Jesse and Matt Kivel and their childhood friend Ben Usen teamed up while all three were studying abroad in London. Given that they'd left most of their instruments back home in California, they only had access to the basics: an acoustic guitar, a keyboard, a tambourine, and an egg shaker. In spite of these lean conditions, the trio managed to record enough material for a mini-album, A Case of the Emperor's Clothes, which they self-released the following...
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