Bats & Mice
Back In Bat EP
Much time has elapsed since we last heard a squeak from Bats & Mice. On 2004’s A Person Carrying A Handmade Paper Bag Is Considered As A Royal Person EP, the Virginian band came into their own with a blend of the dark, lilting beauty of Three Mile Pilot and the muscular rock surge of the band’s post-hardcore pedigree (Sleepytime Trio and Milemarker). Bats & Mice enjoy playing musical chairs, with significant lineup switches on each release. Back In Bat’s team of Ben Davis, David NeSmith and Mark Oates is surely the band’s strongest.
Back In Batthrobs with the rock vigor so crucial to the AC/DC album its title lampoons. Not that Bats & Mice have gone cock rock—they’ve just injected a tightly wound punk drive missing from their previous output. “You Leave” and “Bricks For Eyes” recall the fury of Fugazi at their incipient finest. There’s also a touch of the melodic majesty found in the cruelly neglected Dischord band Gray Matter. Like them, Bats & Mice prove themselves masters of marrying melody and aggression.
As on their previous releases, Bats & Mice temper their aggro tendencies with brooding, slower-paced jams. The Velvet Teen-esque “Loser Drugs” serves this purpose on Back In Bat; it’s also the EP’s standout moment. Though the band deftly engineer the intricacies of hook-infused balls-out rockers, they achieve another level of power within these moodier detours. Soaring vocals cascade over a loping rhythm that creates a tenor of both hope and despair. It’s a gorgeous song and arguably amongst the finest in the band’s catalog. Though it’s easy to miss the noisy energy of their former bands, this much-too-brief EP serves as a tantalizing amuse-bouche of what hopefully is to come.