Fruit Bats’ new album The Pet Parade is out now via Merge Records.
Did you ever eagerly wait for the weekend only to spend it soaking a sunny day in lakes of black bile? If this is one of those weekends, we might have a remedy. Dr. Buzz prescribes Fruit Bats and The Pet Parade. It’s their 10th album, also marking the 20th anniversary of singer-songwriter Eric D. Johnson’s indie folk project.
Johnson wrote most of the songs on this album before the pandemic, but the way he brought them to us makes The Pet Parade another tribute to the era of detachment. Many musicians involved recorded their parts in bedrooms and home studios all across America. Maybe that’s why it has that all-American sound.
While I was trying to think of a way to make another Sadurday (sic) count, it came to me. The first lines of the song ‘Cub Pilot’ go: “She is looking out the living room window / Watching Saturday become Sunday.” It’s only the second song on the album, but I was already hooked.
Johnson’s folk is jangly and paisley, androgynous and adventurous, naïve and unclouded. At times his vocal channels Elton John, at times Lindsey Buckingham, but mostly it reminds me of Johnson’s contemporary Daniel Romano.
It’s an enjoyable vocal range, but it really shines when the band joins him. Nothing says warmth and unity like an old-fashioned vocal harmony. The titular song encourages this attitude in more than one way. The rest follow.
The Pet Parade is not up-close and personal, but inviting and celebratory. It makes you feel like a part of a bigger, more positive picture. It’s outdated that way. At first it’s the atmosphere and catchy melodies that sweep you away.
It’s not a wordy album brimming with wisdom, but it’s very humble and therefore wise indeed. After a while you’ll learn the lines so you can join in on the sing-alongs. It is then that you’ll find out there’s a story here with a pleiad of unfortunate, but precious characters.
I don’t dare to pick a favorite on the album yet, but if I had to, it’d be ‘The Balcony.’ It seems to me not enough people sing about these blissful refuges of introverted sun lovers. Besides, everything about this song reminds me of the last year’s March.
Singing about isolation and waiting is nothing new. We have been here before and we will surely come back even after everything goes back to “normal” – if it ever does. What is different now is that we know we’re together in it. I believe this awareness is what The Pet Parade is about.
Anyway, if you’re in for some feel-good old-fashioned nature-loving music, Fruit Bats made your plate with The Pet Parade.
Order The Pet Parade via Bandcamp.