The Bats – Free All the Monsters

If you want a beautiful LP I’d recommend you give The Bats’ new one a spin. It’s developed into a constant, a mainstay of the past month or so on our turntable, revealing new charms at each play. Still, writing about something as accessible as this record can be difficult, in that it’s not a set of songs that does anything new, it merely affirms what’s so great about pop music.  The opening track, Long Halls is a long luxurious reflection – delivered in the manner only experience can; set against a gentle swirl generated of semi acoustic strumming and muted keys. It has that feeling of feeling content to still be around, despite of all the cock ups accumulated over the years.
The songs are always poppy, and often in a wistful way. Simpletons and Fingers of Dawn are perfect pop songs, beautifully balanced and setting out their message with a skip in the stride. Simpletons also has one of those abrupt, unsettling endings that I love with good pop songs, why carry on when there’s nothing more to say? The quiet vibe is the main one despite the anthemic inclination of tracks like On The Bank, It’s Not The Same or Free All Monsters and nothing gets too rabble rousing.  The spaces on the record are immense: the (intentional?) harmonics and tonal variations created by the sense of openness is the record’s main strength for me. The listener has the choice of listening to a simple, singalong melody or luxuriating in the cavernous, rich and subtle sounds, such as the birdsong at the end of In The Subway. And listen to the monumental sound created on Spacejunk.
It’s an essentially quiet record, but massively ambitious and wide-screen in a way.