Eric D. Johnson, the creative force behind Fruit Bats, doesn't spend a lot of time looking in the
rearview mirror. "Maybe it speaks to some Midwest thing," he says. "Don't be overly reflective
or navel-gazing. And as a songwriter, you always want to be looking forward, not backward."
But with the 20th anniversary of his first Fruit Bats release (2001's Echolocation) on his mind,
it seemed as good a time as any to take stock of his work-and he's doing so in the form of
Sometimes a Cloud Is Just a Cloud: Slow Growers, Sleeper Hits and Lost Songs (2001-2021), a two-disc
collection that tracks the history of Fruit Bats from its earliest days to right now.
Thoughtfully compiled by Johnson himself, this set is split in two distinct halves. Set in reverse
chronological order, the first disc cherry-picks from Fruit Bats' official releases, including fan
favorites-"Humbug Mountain Song" from 2016's Absolute Loser and "The Bottom of It" from
his 2019 Merge debut Gold Past Life-alongside some of Johnson's more personal choices like
"Glass in Your Feet" from Echolocation. "I was 25 when I made that record," Johnson remembers.
"I was even younger than that when I wrote that song. I think I hadn't yet learned to write from
the heart. I was trying to create a sound. It wasn't even so much about the song at that point."
To emphasize both his reticence at dwelling on the past and to showcase how far he has grown as
a songwriter, the first disc kicks off with a brand-new track, "Rips Me Up." Recorded with Josh
Kaufman, who helped produce Fruit Bats' 2021 full-length The Pet Parade, the song is a soulful
strutter about, as Johnson says in the liner notes for this set, how love "paralyzes and wounds