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coverpic flag New Zealand - Full Moon 113 - 12/15/05

The Bats
At the National Grid
Magic Marker Records

The Bats are back with a new record, ten years after their last effort, Couchmaster. And, I must say, it feels good to have the jangly pop-meisters back. The Bats formed in 1982, yet At the National Grid (named after producer John Kelcher's studio in Christchurch) is their 5th album proper, launching 13 new songs by the four original members: Robert Scott, Malcolm Grant, Paul Kean and Kaye Woodward.

When the Bats came together again a couple of years ago (after various projects in the meantime) their goal was maybe to look back at the golden days of their career. Digging up some classic Bats-sounding songs. Because National Grid is sort of back to the roots, with its quite unpolished, loose and raw feel. Much thanks to the fact that it's mainly recorded more or less live. Head-Bat Robert Scott has come up with some touching, low-key pop songs. "Single File" is one of those. "Things" is another top-notch, with a most blissful guitar-elevation. Delicious. It's also very nice to hear Kaye singing her "Mir", a brittle but warm hearted song. Amazing. Then there's "Up To The Sky" - another reminder of classic Bats-pop at its best. Almost vintage when still new. The bass driven instrumental "We Do Not Kick" (referred to as "We Do Not Kiss" inside the CD sleeve) is a pleasantly calm break, before the most up tempo song, "Flowers & Trees" close the albums regular song cycle (there's an untitled hidden track). Again the tasteful guitars are sheer brilliance, ending quite noisy and squeaky, almost infected. As noisy as the Bats can be that is. Kind and controlled.

If you find At the National Grid under the x-mas tree you should be pleased. It's not the Bats' best record but it's got some great moments.

Copyright © 2005 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Bats articles/reviews: Antlers, Free All The Monsters.

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