You may or may not know this, but The Fruit Bats have been around for a pretty long time. I say you may not know them not to affront your breadth of knowledge of the musical scope, but to forgive the fact that they are one of those groups on the Sub Pop label that haven’t quite attained the popularity of bands like, dare I say, Fleet Foxes, or The Shins. However, popular doesn’t always mean that one band makes better music than the other; as “indie” music fans should know. Regardless, if you haven’t already hopped on the Fruit Bats express, now is as good of a time as any with their folksy yet pop filled fifth studio release.
Tripper begins with an introductory number that gives listeners a taste of the narrative style embedded inside all great Fruit Bats songs. “Tony the Tripper,” starts with delicate guitar strumming and the lead vocals of Eric Johnson, as you are gracefully eased into the storytelling about the title character. As piano parts trickle in above the bass-line during the chorus, you get the idea that Mr. Tony is a facet of Johnson’s personality; the wandering part of him coming out. It’s a quaint opening number, with the oh-so-pleasant-folksy attributes in full swing, that continues throughout the
On the third track, “Tangie and Ray,” there is a small shift to more a bluesy rock feel, and Fruit Bats show their multidimensional efforts that will make the transition from interesting to excellent on this album. At 3:13 long, it turns into a bit more a stomper than you’d expect from this band up to this point. With a kicked up drum beat and more prevalent piano, it’s a hearty break from the folk. However, you get right back to the folk on the next song, but this is not a bad thing in any way.
For me, the folksier songs are the better on Tripper. For instance, just when you think you’ve reached the end of the goodness, this band throws a beauty like “Wild Honey” your way, and it’s just astoundingly simple and elegant. It feels like a glorified Tallest Man on Earth track, with emotion packed vocals and all, ready for you to get lost inside its sound. If it doesn’t take your breath the first listen, have another, and let it sink in; the same can be said for any song on this album
It may easy these days to have access to a great deal of music, and it may be easy to pass over bands like Fruit Bats, but it is hard to find a grouping of tracks that have the power to both tell a story, and also move you sonically. So give Tripper a try; you’ll be missing out if you don’t.
Download: Fruit Bats – Tangie and Ray [MP3]