Spelled in Bones (Sub Pop)

Fruit Bats 

Spelled in Bones (Sub Pop)

Feeling kicked in the shins when his Sub Pop labelmates hit Hollywood paydirt with the Garden State soundtrack, Fruit Bats central figure Eric Johnson has taken the minimal success and continuous lineup changes of his folk-pop outfit pretty well. Having moved from Chicago to Seattle with the intention of putting out a dark album, Johnson has instead created something surprisingly earnest and upbeat. Still, a resigned, moving-on feel sometimes appears, as in "Traveler's Song," which ends When the fire in your belly and piss and vinegar's gone/God's no better than you, just bigger is all. Rather than the usual week of studio time, the band spent an entire year recording its third album, and the results are a perfect balance of organic instrumentation, sonic effects and lush, Brian Wilson-inspired arrangements. Despite a few slow moments, Bones is Johnson's finest work, worthy of shining a spotlight on the Shins' former shadow dweller.

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