The Bats


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Yet another Bats album -- on the one hand that can sound like an insult, but when it comes to simply doing a fine job on album after album, with a set but still captivating sound, the Bats nail it here as they have always done before. It certainly doesn't hurt that Silverbeet begins with two of the band's best songs ever: "Courage," a restrained surge of inspiring music that, unsurprisingly, backs a slightly doubting, questioning lyric on love and life, and "Sighting the Sound," with a killer chorus sung by Scott and Woodward together. After that, things settle into that no-surprises-no-disappointments groove that characterizes all of the Bats' albums; everyone's just fine at what they do, catchy melodies are plentiful, and occasional tweaks and touches keep things from being too completely soundalike, such as the addition of slightly droning keyboards on "Slow Alight." Though sometimes the similarities keep songs from standing out as they should, every so often something will connect a little more readily. A great example is "Green," commemorating the environmental group Greenpeace and the underhanded assault on its Rainbow Warrior flagship by France in a New Zealand harbor, an attack not fully prosecuted by the Kiwi government. With a simple but powerful chorus and some quiet, fiery guitar work, it's a protest song that feels far less soppy than most wannabe social anthems. They may be spiritual cousins of the Ramones in terms of not really changing over the moons, but the Bats know their collective strengths and play to them well -- something most bands can't manage .

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