The Bats exhibit both the enormous strengths and rather less significant weaknesses of the diverse New Zealand bands slowly gaining attention in the rest of the world. The band has been around since the mid-80s and has lots of releases out on the country's preeminent label, Flying Nun. The Bats' central players are Robert Scott and Paul Keen, two veterans of other New Zealand bands. (Lyricist-singer-guitarist Scott was in the original version of seminal Flying Nun band the Clean.) The Bats' sound is very Clean-ish, very Chills-ish: Scott's alternately stentorian and keening voice over pleasantly churning guitars and (for the most part) effortless melodies. What's good about most New Zealand bands is their unwavering commitment to the most good-natured sort of pop-rock high: on the Bats' new album, Fear of God, every song--every song--boasts a killer guitar hook and a clean melodic lilt. But Fear of God also displays the Bats' chief weakness, namely every song's--every song's--utterly banal lyrics. But that's the great thing about live shows by melodic guitar bands--you don't hove to listen to the words. The Masons opens. Monday, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.