Fruit Bats singer/songwriter Eric Johnson is at it again, releasing his latest endeavor Tripper, the predictable lovely new and fifth Fruit Bats full-length LP. Recorded in WACS Studio in Los Angeles, the album features the Chicago music veteran teaming up with producer Thome Monahan (Vetiver, Banhart, Pernice Brothers) as well as a full-out band, resulting in wonderful piece of work that travels a variety of different landscapes, both sonic and lyrical.
Over the last couple years having recently worked on soundtracks and projects by himself, Johnson knew he wanted Tripper to be a more solitary pursuit than his previous works, and he definitely accomplishes that here. Though still rooted in acoustic guitar, the album gets some particularly haunting production that makes for a symphony of sounds. The songwriting on Tripper has been tweaked a bit as well. Johnson allows narratives and personal stories shape his songs this time around, his distinctly nasally voice taking the listener on an abstract adventure through his elaborative mind.
On the albums opener "Tony The Tripper", whimsical key playing rides high over the odd, high and warbly vocals of Johnson, featuring rhythms and guitar parts that bring back memories of old Shins songs. On tracks like "Dolly" and "You're Too Weird", which feature soaring rhythms that beg listeners to sway along, it's easy to see that Monahan's production skills definitely helped add to the growth of the Fruit Bats.
In the time of buzz bands falling to the waist side just as fast as they come, it's amazing that a band like Fruit Bats, who have stayed consistently solid over the years, has yet to break into mainstream ears. Tripper, if anything, shows that great bands can exist within the shadows of the blogosphere, and be able to continually create awesome music with essentially the same formula that they started with.