In the 35 years since forming in Christchurch, New Zealand, The Bats have become the epitome of consistency. Though albums may not come as quickly at times, the quartet has maintained the same lineup—lead singer and guitarist Robert Scott, guitarist Kaye Woodward, bassist Paul Kean, and drummer Malcolm Grant—and a similarly strong commitment to a buoyant sound emblematic of the KIwi scene from which they sprang. Sure, their jangle has a lot a little bit of its bounce since their heyday and singles like the spectacular “Made Up in Blue,” but The Bats have rarely released a disappointing note of music throughout their career.
The successor to 2011’s Free All Monsters, The Deep Set (Flying Nun Records), follows in a similar vein, mixing a somewhat languid disposition into The Bats’ traditionally jangly sound. On “Rooftop,” which leads off the record, this bent manifests in moonlit guitar lines juxtaposed with a big backbeat and lyrics about dreamscape traipses. It’s indicative of the record’s tack, which relies on emotion and nuance as much as hooks. In general, Scott seems contemplative, and subsequent songs like “Looking for Sunshine” and “Diamonds” belie their titles with partly cloud moods. No doubt such retrospection is partly fueled by the passing of time, but The Bats are no worse because of it. With more spritely tunes like ”Antlers” also in the mix, The Deep Set reveals a band that has aged naturally, slowing slightly, but not waning one bit.