Friday, July 09, 2010

album of the day: Mouthfuls

I don't know how you feel about ethereal, vaguely psychedelic hippie-folkie bands. For me, they can be just the thing. Of a Saturday morning, raw from the vile treachery of the prior work week, putting on something like the Fruit Bats' Mouthfuls can be like sliding into a nice warm bath for the central nervous system.

Guitar-based, with tight vocal harmonies, you could almost think Fruit Bats were recording in 1969, except for the odd bits of electronic instruments. The music is matched well to the lyrics, so let me start with part of one of the better tracks on the album, "The Little Acorn":

Saving all the waitresses 'cause they've all got longing in their eyes,
The little acorn becomes the mighty oak
The oak throws its seeds into the sky
Drive your car up to the pole
That's as far as you can go
Take your coat off when you know
To warm your bones in the northern snows

Um, yeah. The music isn't non sequitir the way the lyrics are, but is the kind of music you need to make a non sequitir sound (a) deep, (b) innocuous, (c) interesting, or (d) unintended - e.g., as the result of the ingestion of certain substances. Mostly, Fruit Bats accomplishes (b) and (d). Writing duo Eric Johnson (not that Eric Johnson) and Gillian Lisée have a lot of the whimsical spirit of people like Syd Barrett (when sane) or Robyn Hitchcock, and a very large portion of the - how to say it - sedated tone of early post-Barrett Pink Floyd.

However, they seem to have some rather mythological notions of local astronomy, as evidenced in "Seaweed":

martians built canals to bring water
and to sail their vessels down

No, they didn't. Perhaps it would be nice to think so. I'm not sure why.

Fruit Bats do possess a reasonable amount of musical subtlety - some interesting chord progressions and harmonies, that you might lose if you get caught up floating in the overall hippy-dippyness. It repays some close attention to those, even as it more directly induces drifting. In a way, as the All Music Guide review of this album suggests, the laid-back feel, wandering lyrics and just-off-center tunes all have a similar effect, of taking you somewhere... else.

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