One band, three EP’s, six videos, twelve months, eighteen recorded tracks and 38 live shows. An impressive achievement by anyone’s standard. More impressive yet is the progress and development that Bravo Brave Bats have made during that journey, a journey laid out for all to see in their weekly vlog (which to be honest I never thought they could maintain) but a journey most eloquently described by listening to the three EP’s.
The third, the Purple EP, will be released on 14th November (pre-sale etc on their website here) and launched formally at the gig at the Croft on 19th September when they will be supported by Glis Glis and Big Joan.
The new six tracks mark another stage in the bands development, another big step forward and the emerging maturity and confidence of a band that is settling into a space all their own.
Foremost among the many good things to say about this set is the revelation that is Dans bass, the unsung hero of the Bats. Not only is he the rock solid foundation of all the material but he brings a terrific lyrical quality where it’s needed and the big, rounded, fat sound is thankfully raised much higher in the mix this time. On tracks like 1000 Things Before You Die and the last minute of Robots, the bass drives the music on like a locomotive – all Heil Dan the Bass.
Used more regularly across the tracks than before, the layered vocals provide added depth and substance. More use has been made of the three vocal contributions, the harmonies are tighter without becoming affected and altogether the vocals feel less frantic than they might sometimes have done, certainly on the very earliest material. This is in no small part to the drumming, singing dynamo that is Ieuan; his vocals sound altogether more relaxed, and in not sounding like he is trying so hard, succeeds all the more, and his drum work is its usual crisp and tight stuff. There is even a hint of the big stage sing-along chorus around the end of Highwire/Tightrope and the closer Last Song – those festival stages beckon…
Hectors guitar show an even greater range than usual, from the more poppy end on the most poptastic of the songs, Red Giant, to a new looser style as on 1000 Ways for instance and that satisfyingly meaty and dirty reverb-laden guitar on Pilgrims Progress. The (famous) pedal board is employed to great effect and whilst I must admit to missing some of the great, crashing washes of guitar noise from the Green EP, the playing has more sense of differentiation and variety. Here on Purple you get an extraordinary range of guitar sounds and noises, some (to an ignorant like me) are so far from what you expect from a guitar you think a little Roland must be tucked away in the corners somewhere. There are some frankly delicious sounds here worth close attention and discovery.
Overall this EP is another leap forward – a sense of a gathering purpose; a greater sense of light and shade, each song developing it’s own character but within a sound that is clearly consistent and identifiably the Bats. Played with more assurance, they are able to let a myriad of little things shining through (a favourite being the great little guitar octave shift on Highwire/Tightrope at about 3’55”). There is a feeling that the band is happy for the songs hooks to rise more clearly to the surface and not be overtaken by the energy and enthusiasm that still is never the less, their hallmark.
Purple is their most consistent collection so far, the quality of the songs is more even, the playing more assured, confident and mature. Here is a band breaking into it’s stride, finding it’s place, it’s character yet clearer than before. On the previous EP’s I have had favourite tracks, but on Purple I have favourite bits throughout, here is an EP that can be listened to from start to finish over and over again.
Listening back to Red, its almost impossible to imagine how so much progress can have been made in just twelve months. Last year who would have thought that a track as delicate and nuanced as Last Song could have come from a band that produced Tent City with its raw enthusiasm; who would have anticipated a set of songs with such a rich diversity and accomplishment as Purple. Without doubt their best yet, and there will be more where that came from…
Vespertiliones Fortis, Eugepae!
(and apologies for any Latin scholars who may be reading…)
Robots – Bravo Brave Bats