The Bats

The Law of Things

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Returning from his Clean reunion, Scott and company reunited for The Law of Things, showing once again that the Bats will likely forever remain the Bats. As always, they retain just enough subtle touches and changes to prevent complete repetition while still staying focused on the post-punk/folky/jangly/wistful sound that defines their work from start to finish. Opening cut "The Other Side of You" demonstrates that nicely thanks to what sounds like a piano buried in the mix, though it could easily be a guitar played just so as well. With the usual Scott/Woodward vocal blend on the chorus and a sweetly giddy pace tinged a touch by melancholia, it's another lovely Bats winner. Other strong songs include the chugging "Yawn Vibes," with one of the band's most memorable musical and lyrical hooks, the slow-building edge of "Nine Days," and the surprisingly muscular pound (and Alastair Galbraith's reappearance on violin) of "Ten to One." As always, calmer cuts like "Mastery" and the declaration of love "Cliff Edge" surface amid the brisker efforts, effortlessly combining melody, wistful vibes, and the low-key heart-to-heart feeling of so much of Scott's work. Closing cut "Smoking Her Wings" is the best of them all, making for a mysterious and moody way to close out The Law of Things. Of all the Bats' albums, though, Law of Things is perhaps the least successful; no Bats release is anything like terrible, but the unavoidable criticism that the group sticks to one particular sound and style is especially understandable here. Enough twists and turns, always the group's saving grace, help ensure that such isn't entirely the case, but those wanting to take the plunge into full Bats worship should start elsewhere.

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