Aug 04, 2011 #37 – St. Vincent
“For Christ’s sake, get these snakes off of me,” begs Eric D. Johnson, the lead singer of Fruit Bats, on the first track of the veteran folk rock band’s new LP. A reasonable request.
The paranoia continues, albeit against a snappy AM Gold beat, with “You’re Too Weird” (“I’m the only one who ever believed in you”), as Johnson and company spin out the same twirls of melody on Tripper that made their past four records memorable. Keyboards become raconteurs, narrating a concept album based on a doom-tinged road trip through America: “Heart Like An Orange” wanders into pastoral Dylan territory, and “Wild Honey,” a tribute to late Chicago-based songwriter Diane Izzo, courses like a slow-dripping descent into melancholia.
Johnson—who’s also currently putting in time as a member of The Shins—keeps the Bats’ sound relevant the same way he always has: crafting songs that are sharp and to the point while avoiding the tweeness that saddles some of today’s folk bands. Even “Tangie and Ray,” whose protagonists recall a hipster version of Mellencamp’s famous Jack and Diane, comes off sounding fresh.
“She should dance if she wants to dance,” Johnson wails on standout track “So Long,” perhaps finally taming his cognitive dissonance. No argument here. (www.fruitbatsmusic.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 9/10