If you like xbf and BBQT, you’ll like The Bathmats. Not because they’re similar, but because they’re the Same. The Bathmats is the third iteration of an Amery Sandford & Allison Graves band in like, a year. The Bathmats is the duo merged with Montreal-based Weird Star’s Jack Bielli and Mike Macdonald.
BBQT was originally a St. John’s band, with Derek Ashley on bass. During Shed Island last year, visiting Montreal band Weird Star loved what they heard from BBQT at a house show. So when Amery and Allison moved to Montreal (for MFAs in print media at Concordia, and a production internship with Drawn & Quarterly respectively), they all came together as a band.
“It’s been really nice and cute,” Graves says. “I think their expertise definitely helped The Bathmats process, and it was mostly really quick and dirty.”
A perk on the album is the diversity gained by The Bathmats playing pass the mic. Drummer Allison Graves makes her vocal debut on the album, and her voice is pairs to the music like laps to cats — it’s right at home. And the transition wasn’t too terrifying for Graves.
“Ha. I mean, nothing too crippling, but I ended up being pretty certain that I was singing too much on the album. The lyrics are often so ridiculous that I hope that’s what people are paying attention to.”
They are. Endearing, deceptively simple lyrics have been a hallmark charm of the xbf / BBQT / Bathmats formula. The album carries on Graves and Sandford’s tradition of extremely earnest, straight-shooting, straightforward lyrics on everyday life.
Silly as the lyrics might be, they’re bang on in the points they make. Take track 5. “I wanna be a seagull, flying around down by the sea” sounds like a sweeter life than punching in another’s day’s (human) work. And sentiments like “I wanna peck your nose” and “I wanna steal you a diamond ring,” well, that’s just sweet without being saccharine. “The life of a seagull for sure is the life,” for sure.
And c’mon, lines like the album closing, “You’re my candy cos you’re sweet, but candy’s sour too. I dreamed my teeth were falling out like me and you.” That’s gold.
The album opens with an anthem “Bathmats, Baby!” that sets the tone for this collection of catchy AF minute-long victories in pop punk gold, imbued with the kind of lyrics that make life seem good, despite the devastating world we’re living in, and our struggles seem real (no matter how trivial) but surmountable, on account of life’s little pleasures like, “I got a Sweet Dep guy, who gives me what I need, at the depanneur.”
Yes, there’s a song about having a sweet dep guy/girl who is “always down for a chat” and a high five. Because why the hell isn’t that worthy of a song. It’s the little things, man. It’s the little things in this world gone mad.
And self-described “silly lyrics” shouldn’t discredit anything here, because the music is bang on in what it’s mirroring and borrowing from, while being imbued in something all the band’s own: a sort of feelgood blasé nonchalance that lets them pull off things like the doo woop break of track 4’s “Skatebaord.” Granted, things get heated on, “Don’t Feed my Cat.” It tells the story of a Kijiji roommate situation gone wrong.
“When Allison moved back to NL this winter,” Amery Says, “we were in a pinch for a roommate and ended up with this guy who was really into trying to provoke us with outrageous political opinions.”
She says, aside from that “he would feed my cat human food and when I would ask him to stop (multiple times) he would say ‘It’s fine, it’s good for them.’ He was pulling this weird control thing on me, and I couldn’t believe that I had to yell at this guy to stop feeding my f*cking cat!”
Amery also says BBQT is recording a new EP with Micah Brown in April, “so we will have some hot new tracks ready for Lawnya Vawnya.” They’re on the bill for May’s 7th annual Lawnya Vawnya Festival. “We might steal a song or two from The Bathmats just to see how it feels playing them live.”
As for that upcoming BBQT EP, not to spoil anything, but Graves says the new material “should talk about Pepsi again, in more of a real way.”