Singer-songwriter Eric D. Johnson’s band project Fruit Bats are like a musical geyser, the Old Faithful of the indie rock scene. At nearly the rate of every other year he and his cohorts release an album of remarkably reliable merits, full of catchy melodies and dynamic tunes. Their folk-tinged pop songs are never aiming for world-domination – they don’t require big-name producers to juice up the arrangements with glossy synths or expansive horn sections. They are just well-crafted nuggets of personal expression in musical form, sometimes melancholic and at other times euphoric. And despite Johnson’s involvement with The Shins, his heart is clearly in Fruit Bats as exemplified by their new album, Tripper.
With a spacey lilt, Johnson shapes his cosmic folk sensibilities into an elegant three- to four-minute pop song. Usually anchored by some tasty chords on a guitar, the Fruit Bats’ tunes are sprinkled throughout with enough effects and noises to add mystery to the simplicity of their core structures, such as on tracks like “Shivering Fawn” and “Heart Like an Orange.” It is perfectly arguable that Tripper is the best Fruit Bats album yet – it is a great listen from start to finish. But like the rolling hills, the expansive plains or the endless, cloud-filled sky depicted on the record’s artwork, there is probably more beautiful Fruit Bats music just over the horizon. But that’s no reason not to savor the gentle wonders of their terrific new album today.
- Eric J. Lawrence, KCRW Music Host
Tripper will be available to stream on demand from July 25 through August 23, 2011. The album will be released on Tuesday, August 2, 2011.
From the KCRW ARCHIVES
Reformed and renewed, The Fruit Bats returned to KCRW to perform cheery folk-pop songs from their 2009 release, The Ruminant Band, on Morning Becomes Eclectic at 11:15am.
Listen to/Watch entire show:
Artist website: http://fruitbatsmusic.com
1. Tony the Tripper
2. So Long
3. Tangie and Ray
4. Shivering Fawn
5. You're Too Weird
6. Heart Like an Orange
8. The Banishment Song
9. The Fen
10. Wild Honey
11. Picture of a Bird