Battles are an experimental rock band who treat the studio as a playground rather than a laboratory. Their 2007 debut, Mirrored, combined virtuoso precision with disorientating humour, with singer Tyondai Braxton warping his voice until he resembled an avant-garde cartoon character. But Braxton has since left, and Gloss Drop's guest vocalists take us on a bumpier ride. Chile's Matias Aguayo does bring a goofy energy to Ice Cream's Venusian summer jam, but Gary Numan helps make My Machines a bombastic drag. The instrumentals are equally variable. Africastle shifts thrillingly between electronic mood music and brawny riffs, and Futura is tense, cinematic funk-rock, each element locking into place like a cog in some formidable machine. Elsewhere, hints of Brazilian and Trinidadian rhythms suggest a loopy robot carnival. But, unlike Mirrored, there are dry, impenetrable patches, making Gloss Drop an album that ultimately impresses more than it charms.
Battles: Gloss Drop – review
Dorian Lynskey is a writer, podcaster and author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute and The Ministry of Truth