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Derek Bishop – “Resistance is Beautiful” Review

Derek Bishop’s music can best be described as an entire wardrobe of Sunday morning regrets dressed up in Saturday nights best. An entire hodge podge of instruments that somehow fit seamlessly together, this is a singer/songwriter that isn’t afraid of merging all kinds of genres and feelings.

Opener “Counterfeit” is showy and poppy with plenty of funky piano and organs and even Vegas brass blasting you through the speakers. Yet the subject matter is something you wouldn’t want to be waving costume feathers at. What is on display here is some absolutely fantastic piano chops. There’s a great solo and Derek’s vocals flex around it in all the right places. After the fanfare intro “The Last Word” is no less playful but veers more towards electro-pop with fast paced vocals and some fun interplay between the piano-rock and the dance floor genres. It’s a prime example of how you can take an entire world tour in a single song. I’m not aware of many other songwriters who can so competently and confidently flick the switch between four bars of electropop to four bars of lounge jazz to four bars of 70’s keyboard cheese-fest and all sound perfectly plausible. Derek doesn’t sit still!

“Harvey” wheels out the honky-tonk for the most conventional song on the album so far which sounds like a warm hug at the bar for a final song before hometime. Even when singing about sad subjects, the songs still burst with a flowery skip in their step be it through the uplifting and catchy choruses or the happy brass backings. “Take Him Away” reminds me of Shirley Bassey! The low rumblings of the pianos and the oohing back vocals accompanied with cheeky organ flourishes make it the sultry kiss in the dark track – it’s hard not to shuffle your hips to it. “Pass Me By” features lush vocal arrangements and showcases Derek’s vocals that haven’t had the chance to shine because you’re so taken aback by the kitchen sink production of the songs so far. It’s a very sweet song and its relatively simple production compared to the rest of the album makes it a calmer addition to the album. “What It Takes” then follows with a slower ballad which places Bishop’s vocals so far to the foreground the rest of the music doesn’t fit the song until the second half when it all comes together beautifully.

“Set You Free” opens with a fantastic line “I wish you the worst… which is the best for me!” This has some fantastic playing from various instruments and is possibly my favourite track on the album for switching gears constantly in tempo and instrumentation. “Find Him Again” continues the slightly darker edge with less of a fanfare and more of a bass guitar and electric keyboard rumble building the tension. There is clearly a 70’s elevator influence hidden within Derek with all the funky electric piano used throughout the album. “Why Hold On” has a wonderfully rich honky-tonk piano leading the way in what is a purposefully clumsy cabaret track. It’s warm and fun.

“Fold” is a straightforward track which lets the songwriting shine through with intricate verses and choruses before “Thinking About You” gives us the sole piano / vocal track on the album. Surprisingly it’s not a quiet track and reminds me specifically of Elton John. The closer “Jackpot” is a short and chirpy track using plenty of 8-bit sounds and plenty of percussion. It’s a real tour-de-force to fit in as many instruments and styles in 150 seconds as possible. It’s typical of Derek, typical of the album and so unique to him.

“Resistance Is Beautiful” almost seems too big for the speakers, like it’s so jam-packed of sound and wonder it can’t fit itself into just one sonic sound to push itself out. Unabashedly joyous in places and precision perfect mastery of instrumentation throughout, Derek Bishop has added himself to what I call the kitchen-sink genre, where no stone is left unturned for some of the finest music available. Quite possibly my favourite new male artist of 2011.

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