FRUIT BATS – ” Gold Past Life “

Posted: May 4, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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I’ve been following Fruit Bats for a few years now and as a fan, but when Eric D. Johnson released his seventh album under the alias last year, I blew through it a few times and swiftly forgot it ever existed. For some reason, it just didn’t stick. That is, until last week when a friend sent album opener “The Bottom of It” my way as a rainy day recommendation, and the record entered my consciousness once again, where it has been taking up space ever since. Gold Past Life is way groovier than anything Johnson has released before: It very often verges on ’70s disco or funk (the title track sounds like a Bee Gees song—full stop) or maybe even ambling folk-rock in the vein of The Byrds, whereas something like 2016’s Absolute Loser or 2009’s The Ruminant Band was more firmly planted in the indie-folk sphere. Gold Past Life is thoughtful and smart all the way through, sometimes cheerful and sometimes sad and always brisk—like a gust of wind slapping your face as you stare at the ocean, or a gentler cool breeze guiding you up a mountain on a long, peaceful hike.

Gold Past Life marks both an end and a beginning. It’s the end of an unintentional thematic trilogy of records that beganwith 2014’s EDJ(a solo record by name, but a Fruit Bats release in spirit) and hit a peak with 2016’s Absolute Loser They encompassed years of loss, displacement, and the persistent, low-level anxiety of the current political climate. They were written in the wake of friends who left these earthly confines and families that could have been.

I find more to enjoy in each listen, and I only wish I had given it more credit last year upon its initial release. But, as they say, better late than never! the new record also features more keyboard influences and a range of guests including Greta Morgan (Springtime Carnivore, Vampire Weekend), Neal Casal (Circles Around the Sun), Trevor Beld Jimenez and Tim Ramsey (Parting Lines), Meg Duffy (Hand Habits), and more.

From the album Gold Past Life, released June 21st, 2019 on Merge Records.

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