Fruit Bats Supply Sunshine Filled Song Entries On ‘The Pet Parade’

The eighth album released by Fruit Bats finds Eric B Johnson and crew dealing with unsettled times in familiar ways and while the majority of The Pet Parade was written pre-pandemic the songs can’t help but flow through that collective experience and gain a new perspective. 

Basically a Johnson solo project at this point, Fruit Bats allows him to work with various players keeping the full band indie folk-rock vibe alive. This go-around he recruited  Bonny Light Horsemen bandmate Josh Kaufman who played various instruments and produced, as well as drummers Joe Russo and Matt Barrick (The Walkmen, Fleet Foxes, Muzz), Johanna Samuels, pianist Thomas Bartlett (Nico Muhly, Sufjan Stevens), and fiddler Jim Becker (Califone, Iron & Wine).

The support staff are a who’s who of the current folk-rock indie scene, and even though they were forced to record separately, the album as a whole is warm and fluid starting with the opening title track. “The Pet Parade” plays as an awakening after a long sleep, rising with waltzing strings, a bit long-running, but the unique poetic scene is painted by Johnson. 

The well-grooved “On the Avalon Stairs” is a rhythmic ride while the dramatic “Holy Rose” ups the swelling in the vein of Delta Spirit. “Cub Pilot” calls to mind Don Henley’s “End of the Innocence” with piano, acoustic strums, and Johnson’s high-pitched vocals.  The majority of the album though is right in the Fruit Bat wheelhouse of comfortable corduroy-covered folk-rock. Tracks like “Discovering”, “The Balcony” and “Eagles Below Us” are all back porch-based, sunshine-filled entries. 

The Pet Parade marches on for Fruit Bats, delivering looping easy rolling tunes around Johnson’s distinct vocal approach. The album ends with a positive wish as just Johnson and acoustic guitar decree completeness on the listener in soft friendly terms; all best wishes are needed and welcomed these days. 

Photo by Annie Beedy


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