Like the comforting inevitability of nature's cycles, Fruit Bats' Eric Johnson returns every two years with more woodsy acoustic numbers that crawl out of the underbrush to feel the warmth of the sun. Spelled in Bones continues to revel in pastoral delights, but Johnson gives the new album a little more giddy-up, especially on the rousing opener, "Lives of Crime." Plus, taking a cue from buddy James Mercer of The Shins, Johnson has started actively performing his vocals, rather than letting his lyrics drift beneath his gauzy arrangements. Consequently, the pretty "Traveler's Song" and "The Wind That Blew My Heart Away" don't just flap in the breeze -- they sound like pop songs instead of mere campfire ditties. Johnson's simple romanticism will turn off indie fans who want their resignation spiced with sonic experimentation (or, at the very least, electric guitars). So think of them as Grandaddy gone folk, and let the humming begin.
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