Graham Reid | | 1 min read
While many hold affection for their earliest and formative albums on Flying Nun like Daddy's Highway ('87) and The Law of Things ('90), for this writer's money their three most recent albums The Guilty Office ('08), Free All the Monsters ('11, in our best of the year list) and the slightly lesser The Deep Set of three years ago showed a band at the top of their songwriting/playing game.
There's always been something appealingly modest about the Bats recent albums where their melodies roll effortlessly, the vocal harmonies retain their untutored but engaging charm, the lyrics have an emotional directness and don't strain for effect (Beneath the Visor here), the songs are discrete with only the most subtle of embellishments (as in the closing guitar solo of Another Door) . . .
The Bats' recent albums were proof that time makes a fine wine.
Recorded mostly live in a single room in a remote house in the foothills of the Southern Alps, these songs are once more broadly in that mid-tempo folk-pop (Change is All, the downbeat Gone to Ground) or chiming upbeat folkrock (Field of Vision, the catchy Warwick) which has become their autograph sound (with those subtle embellishments, as on Electric Sea View).
Yes, there are some flat spots (Red Car) and it sometimes lacks the spark of Free All the Monsters, so Foothills is an album for those already familiar with and seduced by the Bats' style and recent albums.