Review by Ryan Leach
By Night (1984) was the Bats’ debut EP. It was an auspicious beginning for the group: six great songs and not a dud among them.
The Bats “sound” more or less coalesced on By Night: Robert Scott’s straightforward songwriting and rhythm guitar; Kaye Woodard’s tasteful lead guitar work; Marshall Grant’s steady backbeat; and Paul Kean’s melodic and active bass lines are all present.
It’s hard to pick a favorite among these tracks—Woodward’s 12-string guitar work on “Jewellers Heart” is distinctive; the mismatch of Scott’s reserved vocals with the unstrained subject matter of “I Go Wild” is compelling. The Fall-like, honky-tonk stomp of “United Airways” certainly ranks high. But it’s “Man in the Moon” that comes out slightly ahead of the rest.
Robert Scott’s best work typically comes out in the Bats’ mid-tempo songs, where he adopts an early ‘70s singer-songwriter feel, particularly influenced by John Cale’s early solo work. “Man in the Moon” comes closest to that hallmark.
By Night is highly recommended. Somewhat hard to fine, Compiletely Bats is more accessible, and contains almost all of the tracks off of the Bats’ first three EPs.