Paste (magazine) - "The album stacks more of its mellower songs toward the end, trading some of the enthusiastic spirit Johnson brings to Fruit Bats' return for a finale that sounds thoroughly peaceful."
Audio Mixer: Thom Monahan.
Recording information: Golden Void, Los Angeles, CA; Valiant Effort, Portland, OR.
Photographer: Jerry Davis.
Taking a break from Fruit Bats after 2011's Tripper, bandleader Eric D. Johnson composed scores for a handful of films and released a solo album as EDJ before re-embracing his more well-known moniker. On Fruit Bats' sixth LP, Absolute Loser, he continues to operate as a band of one, at least in terms of official membership, though the record carries a jangle-rich, full-band presence. Johnson also re-embraces his group's folky roots, as demonstrated by the banjo that ornaments "Humbug Mountain Song," an uptempo, minor-key remembrance. That quality is also reflected in titles like "From a Soon-to-Be Ghost Town," an easygoing alt-country elegy ("You know it's hard to be the last one in a soon-to-be ghost town/When all that you've loved is now gone"). The likewise geographical "My Sweet Midwest" is a warm and lively anthem that would make a fine jingle for a visitor's bureau somewhere with amber waves of grain, if taken literally instead of metaphorically. Elsewhere, twang seasons pretty chords on the lush, synth-enforced "None of Us." The trippier "Good Will Come to You" gets hazy in the chorus with its wash of electronic and acoustic textures, and "Don't You Know That" studies the relentlessness of the new day in the face of loss with sparse piano, acoustic guitar, and elegant solo electric guitar. On the whole, Absolute Loser is dominated by an energetic wistfulness and sweet melodicism that characterize most of Johnson's work, whatever his instrument palette. While that should please fans, the solidly crafted song set also offers as good an entry point as any for potential admirers. ~ Marcy Donelson