Several albums into their tenure with Sub Pop, Fruit Bats main man Eric D. Johnson has steered their latest long-player in a more personal direction – recorded with the full band, the production of the record was heavily influenced by Johnson.

Opener ‘Tony The Tripper’ has a late Beatles-ey feel and Lennon-esque vocals, and it’s a pointer for the entire record. It soon becomes clear that this album couldn’t portray a more seventies vibe if it rocked up in a brown Ford Cortina, with a big beard and corduroy flares, a lime green shirt, a copy of The Joy Of Sex on the dashboard and a keg of bitter on the back seat.

It’s smoothly melodic stuff, but barring the bouncy strut of ‘You’re Too Weird’ and the choppy organs of ‘Dolly’, it’s a bland experience. ‘So Long’ is pleasant, like a warm bath, the kind of song Radio 2 should be all over like a rash. And there are some great lyrical themes, like the outcast yarn of ‘The Banishment Song’, but allied to an utterly vanilla piano backdrop, the impact of the words is lost in the haze. It shimmers, it shines, it glides, but ultimately ‘Tripper’ slides to a halt under a sign marked ‘mostly dull’.

By Chris Watkeys

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