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Album Review
Free All The Monsters

Free All The Monsters
by The Bats

Flying Nun

Review Date
9th December 2011
Reviewed by
Danielle Street

After close to three decades of making music together The Bats still fit the same blueprint they began with. Free all the Monsters is by nature of evolution perhaps a little more polished than the Flying Nun veterans' earlier offerings, but the melodic janglings and the unmistakable twang of Robert Scott ensure it is undeniably the same band that has gathered a solid fan base around the globe.

Optimism seems to be the theme gluing Free all the Monsters together, the album is dotted with sanguine lyrics of fortification, born of personal experience. It is apparent the writing force behind The Bats have gone away, raised families and come back to pen contentedly twee pop songs. 'On the Bank' is prime example, over top of rolling riffs Scott subduedly recites about the sentiments of friends who can "lend a helping hand".

The painfully catchy title-track again exemplifies the album’s motif, it is an advisory little number about letting go of the demons of past difficulties. It may be somewhat appropriate then that Free all the Monsters was recorded at a former mental asylum on the outskirts of Dunedin. A Victorian location that undoubtedly imposed on the mood of the recording process, and ostensibly added eerie effect to the album. Mid-album track ‘In the Subway’ carries that surreal tone with rolling tom drums and floating lyrics, finished off with some samples of native bush.

A real strength of The Bats is their intense closeness, not only personally, as guitarist Kaye Woodward and bassist Paul Kean are married, but also as a music-making unit. Something no doubt ingrained from the vast stretches of time spent crafting songs together, and is evident in the way their sounds gel. The lead vocals alone are striking, but with the added harmonies of Woodward they are something else, bringing real life and texture to tracks like ‘It’s Not The Same’. Washing under the vocals are crisp layers of guitars, just above a bed of pebbly drumming. It all works together to build up a fluid, throbbing sound pretty much consistent throughout the 43-minute recording.

Free all the Monsters is an introspective album with no real surprises. Just classic Bats, which fans of the enduring group will no doubt enjoy.


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