reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
The Bathmats’ first album The Bathmats begins with a track called “Bathmats, Baby!”, and somehow this perfectly sets the tone. The album is made up of brief and bright tracks that rarely go beyond a minute, and lyrically form slice-of-life moments with a droll sense of humour.
For example, members Dougie, Misty, Suds, and Diva centre tracks around metaphors that are fresh and offbeat relatable — “You look like my bathmat, baby, I would never step on you” from “Bathmats, Baby!” — or march into concrete ruminations: “You took me out for chicken balls and whispered ‘It’s our date’ / I stopped taking your calls because I stopped feeling great” (“Chicken Balls”). Overall, the lyrics come together in a way that reminds me of the sometimes silly, sometimes heartbreaking songs on The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs.
The lyrics provide heart, but the soul of The Bathmats is in the music. This is a band that is prepared for the challenge they have built for themselves — that is, the creation of many short melodies that are as addictively digestible as the lyrics. Many of the songs channel pure summertime 60s beach fun (jangly guitar and symbol heavy drums, or doo-wop instrumentals fit for the soda shop in a sentimental film), while others push the limits of nostalgia. “Suds”, for example, is an instrumental 8bit-ish keys jingle, while “Candyland” has an extreme fuzzy affectedness that borders on the experimental pop tones of Connan Mockasin.
Though the songs don’t follow standard song structures, and there is no easy-to-sing-along-to track on the album, when taken as a whole, the record becomes one long anthem to joy broken into small tableaus. And hey, limericks are short poems originally meant to comedically and quickly channel language for (often obscene) effect, and in an analogous way, The Bathmats is a record of short, musically adept and candid tracks that are sure to brighten your day.
Top Tracks: “I Wanna Be A Seagull”; “Bathmats, Baby!”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *Swoop*