The Bats were one of the great indie pop bands of the late '80s and early '90s. They were at the forefront of a fertile New Zealand scene (frontman Robert Scott was in the seminal N.Z. group the Clean), they had a unique and quietly powerful sound that combined chugging lo-fi pop hooks, Scott's plaintive vocals, and a lovely feel of wistful melancholy, and above all, they wrote great songs. They also released one of the finest records of the '80s, Daddy's Highway. This much-desired career retrospective, Thousands of Tiny Luminous Spheres, gathers up 17 songs taken from their five albums and tosses in a few rarities as well. Three songs are extracted from 1987's Daddy's Highway ("North By North," the heart-tugging "Block of Wood," and "Tragedy"), two from 1990's Law of Things (the best two songs from the record, "Mastery" and "Smoking Her Wings"), two from 1991's Fear of God ("Boogey Man" and "The Black and the Blue"), two from Silverbeet ("Courage" and "Too Much"), and three from 1995's Couchmaster ("Afternoon in Bed," "For the Ride," and the brief instrumental "Supernova"). The rarities include "Claudine" from 1985's And Here Is "Music for the Fireside" EP, "Spill the Beans" from 1993's Spill the Beans EP, and two unreleased tracks, "You Have the Right," which was recorded during the Couchmaster sessions, and "I've Seen It All Before," which was recorded in 1998. The compilation of the disc is first-rate, the producers uncannily chose the best tracks from the albums, and the rarities are all essential to the Bats experience, not just throwaways. The Bats' recorded legacy is one of the strongest and most important of the alternative/college rock era, and this disc presents an evenly balanced and enjoyable view. Now if someone would just get on the stick and reissue Daddy's Highway!
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra