The Guilty Office
New Zealand’s The Bats is one of those bands that has long occupied the “recommended if you like” slot in relation to some of my favorite lo-fi indie pop acts. The Guilty Office is the first of their discs to find its way into my stereo and while they might be new to me, it’s their seventh album. They’re no spring chicken, having consistently released albums after NZ ground zero pop band The Clean broke into the international consciousness in the ’80s.
The Bats sound is a similarly-tinged, downcast-but-bright pop to their progenitors. It’s sinewy and minimal, the kind of power-pop that doesn’t rely on frilly leads or ornately plotted movements between verse and chorus. It’s simple chugging, jangling buoyancy that flows through the subtle, fluid “Countersign” and the gorgeous and shambling “Like Water in Your Hands.” Even the darker, slower turns like the Velvets-esque “Broken Path” glow with a latent Pacific Ocean luminescence thanks largely to the bleary, sunburned boy/girl harmonies of Robert Scott and Kaye Woodward.
It’s not exactly appropriate to call the melancholy eddies The Bats create “surf music” but at the very least the ebb and flow that surround their island have found a beautiful way to influence their songwriting.