A proper introduction to Bat Fangs requires but a single hypothetical question: If, by some strange miracle, pop rock and heavy metal were able to set aside their longstanding stylistic differences, shack up together, and produce offspring, what form would their progeny take? It's an odd coupling, to say the least—and yet, on the duo's self-titled debut, these diametrically opposed styles form a tough-as-nails nuclear family, united through a shared appreciation for acrid chug, murky psychedelia, and cutting hooks. In doing so, co-conspirators Betsy Wright and drummer Laura King hone in on a truth we've known all along: all forms of rock, be they sinful or sweet, speak the same populist language, albeit in vastly different tongues.
Bat Fangs consists mainly of turbo-charged rock anthems with a mean riot-grrrl streak: think Sleater-Kinney reared on a diet of Thin Lizzy and Mötorhead. This punchy populism forms the nexus of Bat Fangs' eponymous full-length, a twenty-six-minute tour de force that derives its gutter-punk gravitas from simple, potent contrasts. On the explosive opener "Fangs Out," gnarled licks and haggard drum beats circle Wright's buttery alto like a circle of sharks, spiking an otherwise straightforward stomper with just enough danger to offset the syrupy melodies; other cuts, like "Bad Astrology" exhibit a more soulful approach, with King yowling through the static like a young Janis Joplin, untamed and yet oddly approachable.
That's not to say the songs don't sometimes pour on the sugar. "Boy of Summer" and "Heartbeat" find the women wiping off the grit to make room for ample harmonies and girl-group "sha-la-lahs." But, as suggested by the title of both the album its band who made it, Bat Fangs are a band built to bite—and when they sink their teeth into the darkness, on raucous highlights like "Rock the Reaper," the album soars accordingly. —