Bats and Mice, a band comprised of former Sleepytime Trio members released their album, Believe It Mammals, in 2002; but after a year they seemed to fall out of my memory. Believe It Mammals was a stunning album complete with lush guitars, deep bass lines, forceful drumming, and muted vocals that seemed to exude emotion effortlessly. The songs on that album became the soundtrack to my life for years after its release. So imagine my happiness and fear when I saw that Bats and Mice had released something new. Happiness because I’ve wanted to hear new music from them for quite some time and fear because I was afraid that I would taint the new release by thinking that nothing could be better than Believe It Mammals. They also had some line-up changes that made me think that their music would be switched from the muted melodies of their last release to the something less appealing … such as crunching guitars and less than perfect harmonies. While A Person Carrying A Handmade Paper Bag Is Considered As A Royal Person is a lot more polished than Believe It Mammals, it still has that not all familiar music that made Bats and Mice one of my favorite bands.
The first track, “The Royal Paper Bag,” is purely instrumental which makes for the perfect introduction to the new sound Bats and Mice are producing. It is automatically noticeable that there won’t be anything muted on this release and it isn’t a bad thing. The pounding drums of the newest member, Luke Herbst and the perfectly matched bass and guitar make for a wall of sound that just takes over everything that stands in its path. The second track, “Military Smile,” features the familiar vocals of former members David Nesmith and Ben Davis. This track begins with a light guitar riff but you slowly come to see that this track manages to give each instrument their time in the limelight. After the short guitar solo it seems as if this song belongs solely to the bass. The heavy bass line takes control of everything, weaving together the different instruments as if it were the thread in a handmade sweater. Yet as soon as I was getting acquainted with the bass, the drums kick in to take over – and what a glorious takeover it is. The percussions flourish as the bass and guitar takes the backseat to the overwhelming pounds Herbst produces. Towards the end of the track, all of these elements blend together with the vocals to finalize the first complete song by the band.
With this release, Bats and Mice tries to take what was perfect about their sound and incorporate into it something new. They fill this short four track EP with enough of the old stuff, so as not to alienate old fans, and a lot of the new sound to produce a release that once again leaves this listener craving more; unable to withstand the wait for the next full release.