Naming all the rock bands in which these guys currently or once claimed membership would take a while, but the only one that’s relevant is the Virginia group Sleepytime Trio, an on-again, off-again screaming emo-punk quartet that included Chapel Hill resident Ben Davis. As on the Ben Davis Conspiracy’s recent album, this debut full-length from the would-be supergroup is a solid attempt to expand their range beyond the genre’s telltale, angst-ridden howl. The leap from the familiar, if caustic, territory of hardcore-informed rock has landed bands in states of beautiful dissonance (Unwound) and/or electro-punk, the current incarnation of Davis’ old band-mates, Milemarker. Bats and Mice, however, keep it conservative. But the tired emo formula of stop-start dynamics and shouted, affected vocals unfortunately lingers, draining a few songs of the power of forward motion. But Bats and Mice do succeed in creating several memorable pop songs with vocal harmonies set against rattling percussion and synth backgrounds. This transformation immediately brings to mind–especially on the tracks “Hallways,” and “A Polished Facade”–NYC’s Versus, who succeed in pushing their Mission of Burma-styled post-punk into a pop vein. “Enough for You,” is a breakneck-speed ripper, that sees the group finally hitting the gas and never looking back; with those hooks and thick guitar sound making a strong case for the band’s ability to pop, I wish there was more of it here. Though some of the songs wallow in self-agony too much, the winners are worth the trip.