Release Date: Oct 25, 2011
Record label: Flying Nun
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop, New Zealand Rock
It’s hard to decide which is more impressive, that at the time of their 2011 album, Free All the Monsters, the Bats had been been a band for nearly 30 years (with the same four members!) or that they sound almost exactly the same as they did on their first recordings. Yes, the record is much cleaner, but all the hallmarks of the Bats' sound are there: the close-knit guitar interplay between Robert Scott and Kaye Woodward, the way the duo's vocals fit together like puzzle pieces, Paul Kean’s melodic basslines, and the tightly propulsive drumming of Malcolm Grant. It’s a warm and inviting sound that feels as fresh as it did when they first came up with it in the early '80s.
Things move slowly in the world of beloved New Zealand band the Bats. 2012 will conclude their 30th year as a group, although they're not likely to be in any rush to celebrate that fact. After all, this is a group that took five years to release its debut full-length album (Daddy's Highway) and is only now issuing its eighth record, Free All the Monsters.
The Bats have been doing their thing for 30 years now, which includes not only releasing albums sporadically but also working on other projects and taking some time off, too. Vocalist/guitarist Robert Scott’s also the bassist for the Clean (probably the key act for both Flying Nun Records and the idea of the Dunedin sound), and he’s been involved with the Magick Heads and other acts. The band’s other members have performed (besides various other work) together as Minisnap.
A new Bats album is like Christmas. Which is to say it’s infrequent, and like the conversations with family members you catch up with for the first time in 12 months, it plays out in a certain familiar, ritualized way, though not without genuine affection. Like family, The Bats are reliable, emerging from the Batcave every few years with a workmanlike long-player for fans of New Zealand’s late-1980s rock scene and Pavement obsessives who heard Stephen Malkmus was pretty hot on the band.