Short Stack

This is Bat Country

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This Is Bat Country is a love-it-or-hate-it affair, with the choice depending largely on a listener's age or ability to enjoy primitive but mercilessly addictive hooks hammered into long-term memory by bouncy beats at the first listen. Tolerance for serious, Twilight-level melodrama is also mandatory, because otherwise, Shaun Diviney literally -- and earnestly -- howling "awooooo" on "Werewolves" would be cringeworthy. But while it's easy to take potshots at the record for the way it revels in juvenile pomp, mistaking it for profoundness like teenagers have been doing since the Stone Age, This Is Bat Country also deserves its full due for being loaded to the brim with catchy tunes. There is not to much to say about them, really -- simple punkish riffs played over straightforward dance rhythms, with industrial-lite synths barely audible in the background, weren't exactly novel even in times of the Killers or Good Charlotte -- but the point is, the youthful energy is well applied here: sure, it's naive, but try not to tap to it. Big names such as Queen, Smashing Pumpkins, and Hunter S. Thompson (naturally) were cited in connection with this record, but the end result is on the level of H.I.M. in terms of songwriting complexity and sounds like Alphaville with some guitars when it comes to actual music -- and that should still count as a success. A couple of string-laden ballads and a waltzy tune pop up in the latter half of the album, but it's all icing on the cake. Tunes like "We Dance to a Different Disco Honey" represent the real Short Stack: simplistic, self-centered, and masquerading musical conformity as rebellion, but also offering some of the best mindless fun money could buy in 2010 -- in other words, a glorious guilty pleasure.

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