THE BATS: FREE ALL THE MONSTERS (2011)
1) Long Halls; 2) Simpletons; 3) Free All The Monsters; 4) See Right Through Me; 5) It's Not The Same; 6) In The Subway; 7) Fingers Of Dwan; 8) Spacejunk; 9) On The Bank; 10) Canopy; 11) When The Day Comes; 12) Getting Over You.
A long-term fan of The Bats who would expect any change from the band as late as 2011 might as well expect AC/DC's Brian Johnson to star in a Broadway musical... oh wait a minute, he nearly did star in a Broadway musical, so The Bats take first prize. Free All The Monsters continues the tradition of irregularly alternating «strong» Bats albums (cutesy folk-rock with hooks) and «weak» Bats albums (cutesy folk-rock without hooks), and it seems to me, on the whole, to be a minor improvement over Guilty Office, but with a huge stress on seems — it might just be the atmospheric pressure on the brain conditioning the judgement here.
Fans of Kaye Woodward might take a particular liking to such tracks as ʽSimpletonsʼ, where she sings harmony with Scott — the end result is a disarmingly charming twee pop nugget of a disarmingly romantic nature; ʽSee Right Through Meʼ, where her role is mainly reduced to wispy ooh-oohs in the background; and, come to think of it, most of the other tracks have her vocal presence as well — and when you put enough echo on Woodward's voice, it gives her the presence of an Elven Queen (it's a different question whether that automatically makes Scott an Elven King or not, but it does seem that they feed off each other, and that mixing their voices together helps soften their individual weaknesses and highlight their collective strength).
The instrumental parts, however, do not offer much respite — all atmospheric texture, as usual, no individuality whatsoever to the songs: even the instrumentals, like all Bats instrumentals, are predictable drones that are more likely to rock you to sleep than to rock you to any sort of action (ʽCanopyʼ). Only the title track can boast an anthemic riff, mixing tenderness with determination, but it took me three listens to single it out, lost as it is in the monotonous production jungle.
For the sake of objectivity, I must mention that the general critical and public opinion alike on Free All The Monsters was quite positive — however, I ascribe that primarily to a three-year long deprivation from fresh Bats material. Just another three years, just another Bats album.
Check "Free All The Monsters" (MP3) on Amazon