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On 2003ís Mouthfuls, this Seattle foursome ó folk popsters who formed around Chicago singer-songwriter Eric Johnson in 2001 ó relied on jangly guitar, gentle melodies, and hazy "ooh-ahh" vocal refrains to suggest an indie Beach Boys schooled on Modest mice. A few too many of Johnsonís catchy sing-alongs failed to coalesce around solid hooks, however. Not so on their Sub Pop debut. Johnsonís slightly nasal Lennon-esque voice is thrust into the forefront of well-paced more-upbeat tunes like "The Wind That Blew My Heart Away" and "Canyon Girl," and Gillian Lisee harmonizes in a way that brings to mind Fruit Bats tour mates the Shins. The disc retains some of the aimless stroll-in-the-woods feeling of Mouthfuls; the final track even ends with bird calls. And sleepier numbers like "Travelerís Song" boast just enough yearning sweetness to keep from dozing off. Spelled in Bones may be full of predictable sensitive indie-boy mood swings, but given songs this pleasant, itís hard to complain.
Fruit Bats + Son Volt | Paradise, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | Oct 23 | 617.228.6000.
BY REBECCA MILZOFF
Issue Date: October 21 - 28, 2005
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