Friday, February 9, 2018

Bat Fangs, Bat Fangs, 2018

Album Review

Yesterday was a weird day for me. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say it was full of lows and highs, lots of stress, and a ton of driving. If you see me out and about at some point, I'll tell you all about it. After a day like that, sometimes it's good to get bashed over the head by some simple but electrifying rock music. So I turned to the debut, self-titled album from Bat Fangs.

Bat Fangs are guitarist / vocalist Betsy Wright (Ex Hex) and drummer Laura King (Flesh Wounds, Speed Stick). The pair make glam-fueled, metal-dusted rock and roll that harkens back to a time when I'd spend my afternoons watching videos on MTV. The songs on the 25-minute Bat Fangs have a sound that can crack the facade of even the most cynical and jaded 21st-century music nerd.

Opener "Turn It Up" demands that the listener do just that. By the time the guitar solo rolls around, you can almost see the pyrotechnics blasting up from the stage. "Rock the Reaper" and album standout "Boy of Summer" are examples of classic pop-hard rock songwriting. Your head bounces involuntarily, and there's an irresistible urge to thrust your arms into the air. The only thing missing from "Boy of Summer" in particular is the sound of an arena full of cheering fans.

Things get darker on "Wolfbite." "You're like a wolf bite / Yeah you turn my day into night" conjures some of those occult images that I always associate with the pop metal of my youth. "Heartbeat" brings in another unapologetically huge guitar solo from Wright, and closer "Fangs Out" is a chugging blast of a finale.

When I saw Ex Hex in Brooklyn a few years ago, I loved all of the band's rock and roll theatrics. Wright and guitarist Mary Timony played back to back or executed epic high kicks. With Bat Fangs, Wright and King have taken that aesthetic to another level, into the world of over-the-top, arena-sized hard rock. In less-skilled hands, this could all just sound derivative; but Wright and King keep it absolutely fresh and badass. Bat Fangs is full of fist-pumping hooks, and it doesn't waste a second of its 25-minute runtime on filler.

And, sometimes, that's just what I need. After a day that I'm still struggling to make sense of, it's refreshing to have something as invigorating, as straightforward, and -- quite simply -- as well-executed as Bat Fangs.

Bat Fangs, the album, is out now on Don Giovanni Records.

Bat Fangs, the band, play Union Pool in Brooklyn on February 16th with Beech Creeps and Simon Doom. I'll be there.

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