THE BATS: SILVERBEET (1991)
1) Courage; 2) Sighting The Sound; 3) Too Much; 4) Slow Alight; 5) Valley Floor; 6) Love Floats Two; 7) Green; 8) No Time For Your Kind; 9) Straight On Home; 10) Before The Day; 11) Stay Away; 12) Drive Me Some Boars; 13) Half Way To Nowhere.
The title is probably a pun on the Silver Beetles — but if this means that, in some way, The Bats are really trying to compare themselves to this early stage in the Fab Four's career, they are totally off the mark. Most likely, it just seemed like a funny wordgame to somebody, funny enough to be commemorated with an LP title.
And the LP itself is basically Fear Of God, Vol. 2: the same brand of «tough» folk-rock, played in a tight, disciplined manner, crisp-clearly produced, with a slightly ominous tinge and a small touch of «social consciousness» to some of the songs (ʽGreenʼ, for instance, is a commemoration of the Rainbow Warrior incident from 1985 — more firmly embedded in the minds of New Zealanders than anyone else, since the bombing took place in their waters, but well worth remembering for everyone, including Bats fans around the globe). But just as The Law Of Things was a slightly less interesting minor brother of Daddy's Highway, so is Silverbeet, on the whole, a little more stale than the freshened up Fear Of God.
As usual, everybody here will have one's own favorites. ʽCourageʼ is often singled out because it opens the album and was its lead single as well, but I find it too repetitive (the song hangs on one simple guitar line from first to last second) and lacking a vocal hook. On the other hand, people rarely talk about ʽLove Floats Twoʼ, which I find to be one of their best love songs — guitars, lead and backing vocals all conspire to make the "you know love floats two, and there's room enough for you" chorus sound a little creepy, as if the boat in question were really floating out towards the world's end. Nor do I hear much mention of ʽNo Time For Your Kindʼ, featuring the album's most impressive chord change from verse to chorus — the lyrics are a little muddy, so it is hard to ascertain what exactly is troubling Scott on this particular occasion, but at least the main hook, a.k.a. the song title, is delivered to stern prohibitive perfection.
Some of the other songs place their trust in near-subliminal guitar lines, like the psychedelic electric wail that appears in between the verses of ʽToo Muchʼ, or the even more desperate howling backing Scott on ʽStay Awayʼ — on the whole, the band's drift towards more and more somber melancholia, as compared to the easier-flowing, lighter-colored days of Daddy's Highway is becoming more pronounced. But this change is neither for the good nor the bad — because Scott and Co.'s skills at writing melodies and dressing them up steadily remain at the exact same level of competence. Since the sound is unshakeably pleasant, and the humble hooks are as well hid as always, and ʽLove Floats Twoʼ is a kicker and all, Silverbeet gets another thumbs up — albeit with an ever so slowly decreasing level of enthusiasm.
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