Battles - "Ice Cream"
Gloss Drop is a complex, dense and ambitious album. No one expected anything less from the uniquely talented Battles. The New York City experimental rock crew’s follow up to their critically-acclaimed debut isn’t as much of a mission statement, isn’t as much as a surprise, but it does more than enough to show that the band hasn’t lost any of the technical wizardry that characterizes their brand of math rock.
Drastic tempo changes, chord shifts on a whim, a plethora of different sounds and ideas crowd Gloss Drop, all clamoring for your attention. However, Battles are experienced at tempering their own ambition, somehow transforming that crowd into a choir. One song can sound like three, slowing down and speeding up again while incorporating an impossible amount of elements on top of one another. The record never lets you get too comfortable with a song, every part is simply a stop on a journey to somewhere else, staying just ahead of familiarity at every turn. The strongest parts of every song are dropped mercilessly and boldly, making way for something completely new.
This record is far, far away from anything that could get radio play. However, the feeling that, if they wanted to, Battles could make great pop music permeates the album. They seem to whip preciously catchy riffs from out of nowhere, and just arrange them in a never-ending sequence. For an album with few vocals after the departure of lead singer Tyondai Braxton, Gloss Drop still gets stuck in your head far too easily, trading in melodies and lyrics for unshakeable and infectious rhythms.
Where Mirrored occasionally felt like an exercise in displaying outstanding musicianship, it now feels like Battles are letting loose a little more. This sacrifices some of the highs of their last effort, but makes for a smoother ride this time around. Gloss Drop is a complex, dense and ambitious album. But it’s also an extremely fun album.