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Fruit Bats

The Ruminant Band (Sub Pop)

Sep. 8, 2009
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It’s hard to imagine Fruit Bats being anyone’s favorite band: It’s taken Eric D. Johnson four years of playing sideman in bands like The Shins and Vetiver to return to recording—and if you’re going to take that long to put out a record, you’d better be Pink Floyd or The Flaming Lips or someone dropping a dramatic bomb of an album onto your already adoring fans. But there’s nothing dramatic about Johnson’s music. There aren’t many hooks, and the records he and his ever-changing roster of cohorts make are just too personal to appeal universally. And, of course, that’s exactly what makes them all the more significant.

Nine of the 11 songs are addressed to someone, filled with lines like “You were screaming and sweating and crying/Dreaming of a ride in a leaky raft” and “You’ll always have smokes if you always give buckets of love,” which just leave you dying to know who that “you” is. And while there may be few hooks, there’s plenty of rambling Mermaid Avenue-style Americana and enough country vocal flair to recall Tumbleweed Connection, neither of which could be considered insignificant albums.



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