Fruit Bats Spelled In Bones (Sub Pop)
The Fruit Bats performed their first EP as a duo, and the next full length as a collective of sorts, and now have produced a full length with an actual band. Eric Johnson remains the constant, writing sunny pop songs laced with introspection and sadness. The album dreamily takes the listener along a sweet pop ride influenced by the likes of Unrest, the Hollies, the Chills, and Paul McCartney… Wings era. Johnson’s pop has a slight twang and a dose of bitterness to keep it a little off kilter, most notably on the opening track “Lives of Crime” which sounds familiar, but never quite breaks into the melody you expect it to, or “Born in the 70’s” that suddenly leads you smack dab into early Elton John, in a folky mood. In fact, the entire CD sounds familiar in that comfortable sort of way, but never sounds quite right, to the band’s credit. It’s that they have these slightly experimental moments, breaking into falsettos or taking away a chorus or melody at unexpected intervals, that sort of thing. As Johnson writes, “So take your earplugs out, hear what the birds have to say,” and he is trying to help you hear it. Keyboards, handclaps, jangly guitars, an earnest if not so capable voice… it all adds up to an endearing album that will charm you every time.