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Every once in a while, it's really nice to listen to an innocuous pop record: something that's just plain delightful, music like cotton or a worn baseball cap. It's comfortable to listen to an acoustic guitar pop song layered with melodies and hand claps. It's like climbing into a big, safe quilt.
Oh, you silly Fruit Bats. I really adore you for this supremely lovely and simple record. You're the antithesis to your Wolf Eyes labelmates, the fraternal twin to The Shins (people tell you apart as the calmer, nicer one, who moved to the country for a while); your new record Spelled in Bones has a sort of sad-words-with-happy-sounds idea to it, even in the title. I mean, if you spell something in bones then you're either a creepy dude named Hannibal or a two-dimensional Flintstone's character. That's a big difference.
So Spelled in Bones begins with a quick-strum acoustic guitar (stolen from Nickel Creek) on "Lives of Crime," a really nice song with pseudo-sad lyrics ("Your tears are just the creek / on which you float away from me") and Dear John Letters-caliber harmonies. It's also one of the more instrument-heavy tracks on the record, basically putting on the table all the tools the Fruit Bats will use throughout the rest of the record: handclaps, acoustic guitar, piano, organ, crunchy electric guitar (like biting a Tootsie pop), a little computer bleep-bleeping, and minimal drums.
In between "Lives of Crime" and the last track — the gorgeous honky-tonk ballad "Every Day That We Wake Up It's A Beautiful Day" — are nine sad-happy tracks, each a lovely pop song in its own right and composition, and each just a little bit melancholy enough for the average person to care about what they're saying. Hinting to similar artists whom excel at the sad-words-with-happy-sounds genre, Spelled in Bones could be the perfect soundtrack to a cold day in July, or the perfect record to play while snuggling in bed on a weekend afternoon, trying to convince yourself the purring cat on your lap is an adequate replacement for your ex.