The Bats – The Deep Set

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 7)

I defy you to identify another band that has been around for almost 40 years and produced such a consistently high quality of music. Most bands this age are either nostalgia acts or have had more volatile careers, churning out duds along the way. The Bats write jangly, catchy song after jangly, catchy song and fill their albums with warmth, light, and care. This band is a treasure and everyone should cherish them. And props to Flying Nun for keeping them on the label.

What I Think of This Album

This is the most recent Bats album as of this writing – their ninth overall, but just their fourth since 1995’s Couchmaster (and the third since 2005’s At the National Grid). The point is that the Bats have slowed their pace considerably but they are still producing excellent music.

The Deep Set is appropriately titled – it is a strong album brimming with the classic Bats sound. All the usual elements are there – Kaye Woodward’s lead guitar and essential harmony vocals; Robert Scott’s tuneful, wistful songwriting and warm voice, and the rhythm section’s understated work.

“Rooftops” is a great opener, with a compelling lead part by Woodward and surging vocals by Scott, and a proper introduction to the superb work that follows. “Looking for Sunshine” is indeed on par with it – another fantastic track. The rhythm guitars on “Rock and Pillars” evoke the sound of the Vulgar Boatmen, though New Zealand and Indiana probably don’t have a lot in common; needless to say, Scott’s vocals are his alone. Viola and cello add color and gravitas to the energetic “Walking Man.” The Scott/Woodward duet on “No Trace” can only bring a smile to your face, and “Diamonds” is a straight up love song, no joke. I don’t love “Antlers” but Woodward’s backing vocals and lead guitar are great, and Scott dials it up a notch for the final minute to salvage this song. “Busy” is another sold Bats tune – like so many that you could easily take for granted because there are almost no bad Bats songs to contrast it to; that said, follow-up “Steeley Gaze” is largely forgettable. “Durkestan” is grey and morose – as well as vaguely political – but no less catchy for it and the vocals are lovely. Closer “Not So Good”’s only flaw is that it is guilty of false advertising.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Durkestan” is haunting.

Release Date

January, 2017

The Cover Art

Mediocre. The cover (painted by Scott) is slightly disturbing, though there is an absence of menace on the creature’s faces (in fact, they appear to be smiling). Still, I don’t want them making an appearance in my dreams and the purpose of those tools is questionable, particularly in the dungeon setting, with the cult-member uniform adding further ominous gloss. I approve of the font and the use of proper capitalization.

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