The Bats – The Guilty Office

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 5)

This may be the first Bats album I ever bought. I say maybe because the cover of Fear of God looks mighty familiar, and that was released in my CD buying heyday of the early ‘90s, so it is entirely possible that I bought Fear of God and then got rid of it, which means I did not like it, which is . . . not impossible . . . but seems hard to believe now. Granted, I’ve erred before and there is a decent number of albums I’ve bought twice, so sometimes things change. Regardless, The Guilty Office is the album that really sent me off on my Bats explorations. I’m pretty sure I bought it at Reckless Records.

What I Think of This Album

There was a roughly four year gap between At the National Grid and The Guilty Office, but it did the Bats a world of good. This is a strong return to form after that patchy comeback album.

“Crimson Enemy” sports a burst of dueling guitar leads behind a screen of acoustic strumming, with a robust Robert Scott vocal. “Broken Path” is a moody, hypnotic march, with a chorus that breaks free for a few seconds and then is taken even higher by Kaye Woodward’s harmony. The gentle lullaby “Like Water In Your Hands” is short but appropriately so. “Castle Lights” uses regal strings, subtle harp, and light snare work to frame Scott’s fireplace-warm voice (with Woodward joining him on the chorus). There are more strings on “Two Lines” with some Richard Lloyd/Tom Verlaine-like guitar work from Woodward. “Satellites” takes us back to tuneful jangle-rock territory. “Later on That Night” is a workmanlike but still enjoyable Bats track. “Steppin Out” gets the tempo back to “Crimson Enemy” levels, and rides a needling lead guitar part. “The I Specialist” sways between light and darkness, with Paul Keen’s bass providing the gravity to hold things together. The band gets slow and quiet again on the title track, showcasing some very pretty guitar arpeggio, but none of what has come before prepares you for “The Orchard,” the album highlight with a forceful chorus and gorgeous string arrangement (as well as some accordion).

The Best Thing About This Album

“The Orchard” is one of the best songs this band ever wrote.

Release Date

June 2009 in the US, but December 2008 in New Zealand.

The Cover Art

Not bad.  Perhaps the first not-awful cover of their career. This is a Scott painting, and the bright colors are cheerful and benign. I don’t love the lowercase album title but I don’t mind it as much as I normally do.

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