The Fruit Bats' Eric Johnson was definitely born in the '70s. On his band's third album, Spelled in Bones, he comes right out and says it, but even without a song title like "Born in the '70s," the sounds of SiB stir up images of Astroturf, bell-bottoms and all things avocado green. Like a pared-down, folksier Beach Boys or Polyphonic Spree, The Bats' songs rely strongly on earthy melody, syrupy-sweet harmonies and nature-obsessed lyrics. Opener "Lives of Crime" sounds quite organic in spite of its throbbing synth undercurrent, and while the subtle electronic washes of their last album, Mouthfuls, are less prevalent this time around, The Bats continue to mix acoustic instruments and modern gizmos with success. Arguably the best vocalist of the current crop of American folk-pop bands, Johnson's sweet tenor sells every song on the album, and the falsetto he sets free on "The Wind That Blew My Heart Away" and the aforementioned "Born in the '70s" could make a Bee Gee blush. Like labelmates The Shins, The Bats make music so classic you'll swear you've heard it before, but in the end they sound like no one before them or since.
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