BAT-BIKE: Getting Back (Trashmouth Records)
Release date: 29 January 2016
BAT-BIKE, the experimental South East London band, are due to release their first studio album, ‘Getting Back’, on 29th of January on Trashmouth Records. Louder Than War’s Roxy Gillespie reviews.
Featuring their usual anarchic style, the album shreds styles and genres, re-assembling the resulting fragments into something fresh and exciting. The lyrics range from the off kilter banality of ‘Leicester Holiday’ to the anthem-like sounds of ‘Getting Back’ via the character-assassination and smut of ‘Bad Ben’, with liberal doses of humour surfacing throughout.
The shimmering psychedelia of ‘Leicester Holiday’ has a monumental feel and a hypnotic rhythm. The juxtaposition of the mundane lyrics only adds to the surreal humour and feel of the track. At over 9 minutes in length, the track manages to engage throughout.
‘Sean Lemmon’ has soft blues rock guitars tempered by some tortured vocal fragments to lull you into a false sense of security before the onslaught of solid noise-rock with distinct dark punk overtones hits you somewhere in the solar plexus. More typical of previous BAT-BIKE tracks, if there is such a thing as typical BAT-BIKE, the piece changes tempo as the bluesy guitar fights through at times, vying for attention with the fuzzy vocals.
One of the two short tracks on the album, the unfocused vocals and echoing feel to the guitars, give ‘Digital Image’ a distinctive and interesting feel, whilst the lyrics on ‘Bad Ben’ suggest the protagonist is the worst friend or shag anyone could have the misfortune to come across. The song has a Beatles-on-the-worst-trip-ever vibe coupled with humorous and explicit words. The change in tempo later in the piece is welcome, giving further definition to the close-to-the-bone lyrics (see what I did there?) before the track collapses into chaos.
The distortion and scuzzy/fuzzy vocals add to the droning quality of ‘Alone On The A9’. The piece narrowly avoids being too long by the slower interlude, which really adds quality to the track as the instruments fade in and out and the drums become more and more insistent. The humour, however, remains.
‘Sex’ is a surprisingly standard sleaze-rock track, but it falls together really well and acts as a bridge from the more typical tracks before it, and the next track ‘Where’s The Home’, which is an excellent departure. Punchy repetitive rock rhythms and a monotone vocal make this a highlight on an already excellent album.
The next track, ‘You’re So Sticky’, has slight Oasis overtones at the beginning, quickly dispelled by the slide sound of the guitars and strong vocals, giving the song an uncharacteristic sunny feel. The lyrics, however, remain classic BAT-BIKE.
‘In Zero’ has beautiful blurred edges and a laid-back 60s psych-pop feel. Voluptuous and hedonistic – pure pleasure.
The title track is a suitable finish to this excellent debut. ‘Getting Back’ is another track with a hint of The Beatles at the beginning and a suitably memorable chorus. As the song progresses, there’s a classic rock guitar interlude and an increasing gospel feel. Considering that none of these things usually float this reviewer’s boat, this is a fantastic track and a suitable finale for this great collection of songs.
BAT-BIKE have self-produced a lot of good material in the past, but this studio album raises their game so much they have entered another league. Although I am slightly reluctant to suggest that they have matured, as with BAT-BIKE that might remove some of their chaotic charm, the music on offer here is very fine and a bit of a game changer. If people have dismissed them for their lack of seriousness, this should make them think again. All I can think is it’s only January and I already have a contender for album of the year.
Getting Back is available to pre-ordered here.