Battles – Gloss Drop (Warp)
The mercifully short ‘Dominican Fade’, by contrast, is one of the album’s few fillers (along with the equally brief ‘Toddler’) and sounds like a keyboard preset demo clip. It’s followed by the lovely ‘Sweetie & Shag’ (featuring Kazu Makino) that sounds like the best of quirky 80s pop. If you can imagine ‘sounds like ‘Call Me Al’ in a really good way’, you’re most of the way there.
Gloss Drop saves its high point to near the end. ‘White Electric’ combines Cardiacs with Pink Floyd’s Barretty psychedelia, highlighting everything that is good about Battles: the same thing. That combination of the weird and the wonderful. The build that seems to last forever that drags you through the track like an unstoppable torrent finally exploding into clashing noise but all the while remaining something pleasurable to listen to and foot-tappingly catchy. Bloody hell, this is good. I didn’t know Battles got this good.
Luckily ‘Sundome’ is nearly eight minutes long, because by this point, you really won’t want Gloss Drop to end. The keyboard samples sound like whalesong; the percussion like raindrops. Yamantaka Eye’s vocals come in brief, indiscernible waves, swelling to something you could almost sing along to if you could make out the words around the five-minute mark. It’s music revelling in its own glorious noise and not much worrying about what anyone else thinks of it. It’s one of the best in a gratifying year of good albums.
Battles’ last album was surprisingly good, but Gloss Drop hints at a far greater potential. Battles are one of the best bands making music right now. I’d love to see what they can do in the long term.
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