The Bats: The Guilty Office (Arch Hill)

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The Bats: CastleLights
The Bats: The Guilty Office (Arch Hill)

The first time and the last time I saw the Bats (at the dawn of time, at the Big Day Out in . . . 2008?) I loved them. In fact at that BDO gig I thought they were one of the best bands on the bill, they seemed utterly invigorated and quite driven.

However I often felt I was enduring rather than enjoying them every time between those two distant points. I recall seeing them at the Gluepot (in the early 90s?) with Flying Nun headman Roger Shepherd who had a grin a mile wide and said that this was why he started the label. I wondered aloud if they hadn't already played this song, they all just blurred together as sound-alikes.

Maybe it was a southern thing.

On the strength of the BDO gig I enthusiastically put this on and after four times through still had mixed feelings: they always strike me as a band in search of a strong vocalist because there are some wonderful songs (and arrangements) here, but most don't connect with me . . . and TwoLines for example just sounds vocally weak and irritating despite the slightly unnervings strings which lift it.

The good news is that I have remembered every song (no sound-alikes although there is the distinctive Bats jangle) and that Crimson Enemy, the gorgeous Broken Path and Satellites, the minimal Lloyd Cole-ish CastleLights, and a couple of others are real grippers.

But frequently I just want to hear a Bats song delivered with some real passion -- as they were at that BDO gig.

But that's just me and I am sure all those who have grown up with the Bats over the past two decades -- and that must be quite a few -- will find a lot to enjoy here.

I have. Selectively 

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Your Comments

Rob - Nov 24, 2008

What can I say? When you are right you are right.
The Bats are a band you recognise instantly. Some people think that all their songs sound the same, but that's only because all their songs sound the same.
Everybody needs at least one Bats album though (Fear of God for me) but I recommend more.

Mitch Howard - Oct 19, 2010

The Bats, yes all their songs sound the same, in terms of they are clearly Bats songs but in fact they are different animals, North by North is miles from Afternoon in Bed and Claudine, Treason, Land o Lakes etc are all their own wee planet. Yes Robert has an odd delivery and it could be said that his vocal delivery is not the high point of the band but was Dylan a great vocalist. Scott's voice most often fits the genre, theme of the songs and kaye Woodwards harmonising along with Paul Kean's add to the aural delivery. I have well over 1,000 exquisitely chosen albums, what can I say i have great taste, and I have all the Bats albums except Law of all things. (Hurry up and re-release it Paul) and I can say with true passion that i love the Bats, every bit as much as I love the New Pornographers, Wilco and others. Qujite clearly the Bats are if not the greates alt-rock band from NZ then bloody close (Clean may be an exception)

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