Battles - Gloss Drop

Vividly audacious
Battles - Gloss Drop
What do you do if you lose your lead singer? If you’re Iron Maiden or New Order you just batter on with a quickly recruited new singer, then just revel in waves of acclaim. If you’re INXS you audition a random idiot on reality TV - then sack him. After Tyondai Braxton left Battles to pursue his solo career, the remaining trio decided to not replace him altogether - a tactic that’s working out beautifully for Battles, since ‘Gloss Drop’ is sublime.

Their robotic, metallic guitars romp around, teasing out a baroque space opera that’s both seemingly measured in nano-bars and obsessed with pushing beyond the outer limits of our sonic understanding. Yet despite ‘Gloss Drop’ often sounding so like androids deep in a mercurial orgy, they manage to shake us from this delirium by a few key vocal guests. Gary Numan sings on the frenetic ‘My Machines’, whilst Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead and Yamantaka Eye from The Boredoms swing by to stitch some guttural reality into the proceedings. But Kompakt’s Matias Aguero probably steals the show on ‘Ice Cream’ - a trippy, fleshy wriggle that is packed with funk and processed riffs that is as guaranteed to induce synesthesia as make you dance.

Battles’ deft re-tethering back to humanity also comes from their explosions of melody. ‘Inchworm’ and ‘Futura’ both have melodies that are so delirious that they could have only been forged by a trio of human minds as they smash into each other. ‘Gloss Drop’ packs this in force, and is one of the most startling, visually emotive albums we’ve heard in years. Vividly audacious.

9/10

Words by MATTHEW BENNETT

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