Artist: The Fruit Bats Release: The Ruminant Band Out: 4th August Label: Sub Pop The most exciting, ground-breaking music is that that is original - a description far from the derivative uninspiring music produced by Seattle based Fruit Bats. This said, their music is far from bad – it just suffers from being bland. Songwriter Eric Johnson has managed to achieve a brand of intelligent, indie-pop smothered in bright melodies, 70’s country rock influences and bitter sweet subject matter; but then again, so have countless other bands. Johnson has unquestionably earned his Indie cool stats- as if being in a successful major label-signed band wasn’t cool enough, Johnson spent the 4 years between his previous album ‘Spelled in Bones’ contributing to successful forward-thinking American folk indie bands The Shins and Vetiver. However it would seem that this involvement has been the cause for much of the album’s derived sound. So much so, many of the songs, noticeably ‘Blessed Breeze’ (ironically my favourite of the album) sound as though they could have been straight off Oh, Inverted World itself. Whether it is the similarity of the distinctive high-pitched vocals, defiant major-key chord structures or rich jangly melodies, Shins-esque likeness after likeness emerge Luckily, much of the latest release on Sub Pop is joyful and upbeat, which, set against an overriding melancholy sense of loss, creates some fairly interesting indie pop songs – a testament to their reference point. Yet the release is unmistakably bland and formulaic; reflecting on the dull same-y songs, it is hard to believe that the Fruit Bats have been making albums for almost a decade. There is little that elevates Fruit Bats beyond mediocrity and afterall, average is boring. Best Song Blessed Breeze, for its euphoric serene melodies. Worst Song Feather Bed for its similarity to James Morrison. One Word Description Bland Rating 5.5/10 Here is a live version of title track 'Ruminant Band'