Thursday, 15 December 2011
Album: Gloss Drop
Release Date: 6/6/2011
Keeping their impeccable intricacies in tow, Battles put a friendlier and happier face on their music for what may be the feel good album of 2011
The departure of front man Tyundai Braxton halfway through the recording process of "Gloss Drop", New York veterans' Battles second album, was one that turned them into a more polarising band than ever before. Had the three musicians who make up Battles been any less experienced and the mountainous speculation that began to surface across the blogosphere about what "Gloss Drop" was going to sound like and the brutal weight of expectation may have crushed them. But having spent the best part of their musical careers in criminally underrated '90s bands, Battles certainly know how to react when they are faced with a challenge, a statement that is more than backed up by "Gloss Drop."
The band's 2007 debut "Mirrored" was one that marked them as kings of the experimental rock movement. Difficult, twisting, turning and inexplicably mathy, it marked Battles as one of the most unfathombaly talented bands operating, and it's a trait that raises it's beautiful head once again and comes to define "Gloss Drop", but in a friendlier and generally much happier and (whisper it) almost accessible way.
Opener "Africastle" starts off with throbbing electronics and reverberating guitar lines before exploding into a controlled but epic slice of shimmering euphoria. Right from the off there's absolutely no doubt here of the effort and heart poured into this record. The keyboards and guitars interlock in dizzying interplay, whilst John Stanier's 10- armed drumming powers through in relentlessly brilliant fashion, as it does throughout the record. "Futura" is glitchy and propelled by looped guitar and keyboard interplay, and sounds more stripped back than anything that the band have done done before, even if it is nevertheless a tuneful and percussive powerhouse.
The album's highlight however comes with the hyperactive and manic "Wall Street". It's a bulldozing testament to the talent which was never in doubt anyway on this on record. Stanier's manic drums speed along behind lightning- fast synths and bleeps that never let up the endearing tempo. Musical talent aside though, there's much more glory to be had here. Teaming up with Chilean DJ Matias Agyuayo on "Ice Cream" results in what may well be the feel- good song of the year with its grunts of "Uh, UH, oosh, URGH!" and bouncy ball of rhythmic pounding and a bubbley synth riff. Closer "Sundome", featuring Yamantake Eye of Japanese noise- mongers Boredoms is a wonderfully upbeat way to end an album.
"Gloss Drop" is not only an album that confirms that Battles are one of the most musically talented bands out there at the moment, but it's also a full- blown and upbeat showcase of the fact that they can push that talent in pretty much any direction they want and still make it all click and fall together in an amazing, colourful and creative mesh. By rights, this album should be your undoubted soundtrack to all your happy moments in 2011.
Download: 1) Wall Street, 2) Ice Cream (Featuring Matias Aguayo), 3) Futura
For fans of: Don Caballero, Holy Fuck