CD Review: Fruit Bats

The Ruminant Band (Sub Pop)

Tuck the sun into Wilco's pocket and swap Jeff Tweedy for Eric D. Johnson. That's how you get "My Unusual Friend" from the Fruit Bats' fourth album. The uptempo keyboard plunking, cheerful pop guitar solos and simple melody are Wilco's Summerteeth all over again. The rest of the album stretches away from the mold, with harmonies and mellowed-out steel guitar that feel like a '70s summer. Johnson has recorded indie-folk band Vetiver and also plays with the Shins. These influences lend the tunes a warm Americana feel and odd bursts of pop frenzy that are peppered throughout the album. Major-key chord structures give The Ruminant Band a breezy vibe. The title track catches you in a strange place — it's impossible to decide whether to sit back and succumb to the laid-back guitar noodling or get up and move your feet to the syrupy groove. On "Tegucigalpa," Johnson wails, "I'll always keep you warm/I'll always treat you nice." Easy for him to say; after all, he has the sun in the palm of his hand. — Danielle Sills

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