One of the most positive things about the bands in the New Zealand indie circle centered around Flying Nun Records is that these bands understand that brevity is the soul of pop, and if a recording session yields only five or six worthwhile songs, better to issue those as a stand-alone EP than to pad out a full album with the less-successful attempts. 1995's Spill the Beans is one of those releases -- five well-constructed, buzzy pop songs recorded in North Carolina by the group and co-producer/temporary extra member Mac McCaughan of Superchunk. Perhaps it's McCaughan's involvement, but these songs are a little peppier than usual; certainly it's due to his extra guitar and taste for distortion that the songs are uncharacteristically noisy. The opening "Under the Law" in particular is downright grungy. More effective (and traditionally Bats-like) are the propulsive title track and the haunting closer, "Give Into the Sands," which oddly echoes parts of Television's Marquee Moon in the guitar interplay between McCaughan and leader Robert Scott.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason