Teenage malaise is forever, or so it seems, in the beautiful new EP by Arizona grunge pop band, Numb Bats. This new release shows their sonic evolution, blending for the first time, the two opposite currents that have characterized their music since their beginning.
While Gentle Horror (2014) represented a selection of darker-themed songs, leaving the more playful tunes for their cassette release on Sun Lips Records and their bandcamp page, Bees and Trees (2015) is a playful mix of both, executed with intent and finesse.
For example, “Dog Poncho” begins with ethereal vocal harmonies over a low-end angular rhythm reminiscing of an early Pere Ubu jam, then morphs to a full-blown California rock stomper.
In fact, many songs here seem to be constructed in divided parts. Opener “Runnin'” (recalling Pharcyde’s Spanish guitar on a similarly-named track) has an outro which sounds like an improvised extension of the initial rhythm. Their mix of pop, rock, grunge, and surf is quite unique, with experimental vocal phrasings, somewhere between punk and doo wop stylings.
“Rainbow” is the straight-ahead pop hit, sweet enough to appear seductive but later hits you with something like real pain, with what has to be the best lyrical couplet representative of angst and malaise: “In a long time / I will feel better” sung with conflicted emotion.
“U R A WINNER” shows their true experimental ambitions. The vocals are Lydia Lunch No-Wave, all sinister-like, followed with a change-up into straight pop for the chorus. This virtuosity seems so effortless, I wish I could move to Arizona and witness one of their jam sessions on a regular basis.
There you have it, a collection of Numb Bats’ more freeform experiments. Full of their trademark gang vocal harmonies, throbbing bass buzz tones, and liberating shouts, but contained in a psychedelic Arizonean desert theater show. Sip on this cactus juice…