Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Bats

  • Daddy's Highway [Communion, 1989] B+
  • Compiletely Bats [Communion, 1991] A-
  • Fear of God [Mammoth, 1992] **
  • Silverbeet [Mammoth/Flying Nun, 1993] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Daddy's Highway [Communion, 1989]
These New Zealanders are wimps if not simps. Robert Scott's reedy if not weedy quaver cries out for Kaye Woodward to chime in, and the one-foot-at-a-time folk-rock pulse can get pretty lame. But their jangly modesty is touching and smart--they understand the formal and historical limitations of their chosen style. And even though only one of their homely metaphors--" . . . there'll be a morning sky/Bringing you some peace tonight"--unites words and music into a pop moment, the atmosphere sustains. B+

Compiletely Bats [Communion, 1991]
Up against the Clean and the Chills, to whom they bear a strong, witting family resemblance, these New Zealanders are lightweights, which is saying something. Their mild anxieties, while explicit enough if you listen with care, provide only subliminal content, serving mainly as insurance that they don't turn into anyone's new Beach Boys. Some differentiate their albums by rhythmic intensity, but this career selection homes in on their essence: wispy tune buoying flat drone. A-

Fear of God [Mammoth, 1992]
jangle clarion, melodies well-defined, beat clear, lyrics intelligible, meaning murky ("Dancing as the Boat Goes Down," "The Looming Past") **

Silverbeet [Mammoth/Flying Nun, 1993] Neither