2009 has been a banner year for Portland’s Loch Lomond, punctuated with triumph, tumult, and above all, artistic growth. Night Bats, the band’s first physical release since the much-loved Paper The Walls full-length and the follow up to their digital-only Trumpets for Paper Children EP, captures Loch Lomond at a unique and singularly brilliant time in their evolution as an undeniably powerful creative unit.
Having toured extensively this year with The Decemberists and Blitzen Trapper (among others), Loch Lomond now emphasizes in its new recorded output a directness and sharp pop sensibility that was only hinted at previously. Lead track “The Ghost of an Earthworm” is a shimmery, hooky gem devoid of much of the chamber instrumentation that peppers most of Loch Lomond’s catalog (here, replaced with bright electric rhythms, making it perhaps the most straightforward song the band has ever recorded); they even cover the Bee Gees’ “Holiday”(from Bee Gees 1st). “Spine (MMIX)”is a dramatically different reading of one of singer Ritchie Young’s most-loved songs, highlighting the band’s musical muscularity.
Title track “Night Bats” is as expansive as it is arresting, and is, along with “Ghost of an Earthworm”, one of the most shining examples of Young’s exemplary ability to tell bizarre, often allegorical stories with stunning dry wit and biting precision. “Wax and Wire” is, simply, quite possibly the richest and most jaw-dropping track Loch Lomond has put to tape.
Masterfully mixed by producer-to-the-stars Tucker Martine (REM, Sufjan Stephens, Laura Viers), produced by the entire band collaboratively and recorded/engineered at Mystery Machine studios by Lee Howard (Nick Jaina, Run On Sentence), Night Bats showcases Loch Lomond at their strongest.
Ghost Of An Earthworm
Wax & Wire