Fruit Bats, Spelled in Bones

fruitbats-spelled-in-bonesFruit Bats
Spelled in Bones
(Sub Pop)

Chicago’s Fruit Bats float somewhere in between chamber pop and alt-country. At times the music on their third long-player, Spelled in Bones, arches into space thanks to a brilliant combination of feedback, synths and the e-bow. But always, the tunes are kept grounded through earthy acoustic guitars and pianos.

“Silent Life” is one such song. Beginning with a piano and Eric Johnson’s bare voice, it initially resembles Fables-era R.E.M. But after the first verse, the band starts adding instruments, each pulling the song into orbit. By the end, the sounds converge in a lovely stream of spacey tones. All in a tidy three minutes.

“Born in the ‘70s” captures its subject matter with soft country rock. A lap steel and gentle guitars, and naturally, a verse sung in falsetto, give the tune a peaceful, easy feeling miles away from the atmosphere much of their other songs inhabits.

But don’t think that the Fruit Bats are only capable of one or the other extreme. “Life of Crime” and “Wind That Blew My Heart Away” are straight-ahead pop songs that meet in the middle. With breezy vocal harmonies and steady drums, they keep you bobbing your head and end before they’ve worn out their welcome.

[This review appeared in All the Rage.]