Yet another outgrowth of the seminal Clean, the Bats are an institution on the New Zealand music scene, their melancholy jangle pop sound and infectious melodies consistently defining the kiwi rock aesthetic at its very best. The Bats were formed in Christchurch in 1982 by ex-Clean bassist Robert Scott, ex-Toy Love bassist Paul Kean, singer/multi-instrumentalist Kaye Woodward, and drummer Malcolm Grant; with Scott adopting lead vocal and guitar duties as well as serving as the Bats' chief songwriter, they issued their debut, By Night, in 1984, the first in a series of EPs that also included 1985's "And Here Is 'Music for the Fireside'!" and 1986's Made Up in Blue. (All three were subsequently collected as Compiletely Bats.)
The Bats finally released a full-length album, the stunning Daddy's Highway, in 1987; soon after the group went on hiatus, with Scott participating in a Clean reunion tour and Woodward giving birth. The quartet came back together in 1990 to release The Law of Things, another critical favorite that received almost no commercial interest. Fear of God appeared in 1991, and two years later the Bats resurfaced with Silverbeet; an intermittent series of EPs (including Live at WFMU and Spill the Beans, the latter recorded with Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan on guitar) followed as Scott again focused much of his energies on another Clean reunion, but in 1995 the group returned with a new LP, Couchmaster.
The Bats drifted apart soon after the release of Couchmaster. Scott spent time in the Magick Heads and working on solo projects, Woodward recorded with Roy Montgomery in Dissolve, and Kean and Grant formed Minisnap in the early 2000s. In 2003 the Bats began working on new songs at the National Grid studios in Christchurch and once they had the basic tracks down, moved to Woodward and Kean's home studio for overdubs and mixing. The result was 2005's At the National Grid, released on Magic Marker in the States and Flying Nun in New Zealand. The album didn't pick up where Silverbeet and Couchmaster left off, but instead returned to the glory days of Daddy's Highway and The Law of Things and was their best work to date. Another strong effort, The Guilty Office, saw release in the summer of 2009 and they followed it up two years later with Free All the Monsters.~ Jason Ankeny & Tim Sendra