The Bats – Silverbeet

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 3)

On the one hand, hunting down hard-to-find albums is much easier in the age of the internet; there can be no debating the boon of instantaneous searching and online payment to the music collector. On the other, it’s almost too easy, which seems like an odd complaint. But there was a romance surrounding finding that long-sought platter in a record store (I still called them record stores even though I’ve almost always just bought CDs); there was the rush of excitement and the relief of discovery and the apprehension that maybe this band you’d only read about might not be something you actually liked and was it worth the gamble? I’ve had both experiences with the Bats’ albums – I bought The Guilty Office in a record store and ordered the rest online (that many of these were New Zealand releases without American distribution (or distributed on tiny labels) makes finding them organically, thirty years later, sort of impossible). As it turns out, Silverbeet was on Mammoth (here, but on Flying Nun in NZ), but I still bought it online many years after its release. In the case of the Bats, it doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the albums, but I can see how it might.

What I Think of This Album

Silverbeet is a much more muscular affair than normal. I am tempted to attribute this to the behind-the-board work of Lou Giordano (producer of Sugar and the Goo Goo Dolls); this album strikes me as the most “American” sounding of the band’s offerings. But production aside, it seems clear that the Bats decided to inject a little more fire this time around. Anyway, it works; everything is louder (well, maybe not Robert Scott’s vocals) and focused.

“Courage” is expertly crafted indie-pop. “Sighting the Sound” features a mind-burrowing lead line and adds some tambourine coloring to Scott’s winking vocal. “Slow Alight” is propelled by sprightly drumming and and nice ascending guitar lead. “Valley Floor” throws in some unexpected droning organ to create an understated, impressionistic, silver-streaked gem. The band spreads foreboding on the darkly driving and intricate “Love Floats Two,” and continues the naval theme with an impassioned dedication to Greenpeace and the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand waters by France on “Green.” Fellow southern hemisphere musicians the Go-Betweens are aped on “No Time for Your Kind” and “Straight On Home” does not stray far from that sound, either. “Drive Me Some Boars” slows things down to offer a truly beautiful bit of rumination. This might be the best, most consistent album of the Bats’ career, and that’s no small accomplishment.

The Best Thing About This Album

Really, almost every song is excellent. “Drive Me Some Boars” is what I find most memorable.

Release Date

June, 1993

The Cover Art

I like it. The font is fun, and the color scheme works well (note how the red rim of the plate matches up with the red bands on the cover. The silver foil looks good and the solitary leaf of swiss chard is intriguing; as it turns out, silverbeet is another name for swiss chard.

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