We told you all about how Tyondai Braxton decided to go somewhere else for Band of the Week, Battles’, second LP Gloss Drop. The remaining three members were left shocked, scrapped the third of an album they had, and decided to make an almost entirely instrumental album with a few guest vocalists. It all sounds very impressive, but also like it could fail miserably.
There’s no denying that Braxton is an amazing musician with interesting and new ideas. However, with Gloss Drop, it’s clear to see that Ian Williams, John Stanier, and Dave Konopka are also amazing musicians with interesting and new ideas. Opener, ‘Africastle’ feels like the beginning of one of those amazing concerts that only really happen once a year, with its elongated guitar, and keys that sound like the tip-toeing of the band as they set up, until it builds into a rolling sound that slides the listener into the record, and just in case you weren’t ready for a purely instrumental romp just yet, track 2, ‘Ice Cream’, features Matias Aguayo on vocals for a truly danceable song that begs to be taken out into a sunshiny park.
The next three are pure instrumental, and ‘Inchworm’ is the standout amongst the three with a beginning that does really inch along before bringing in quicker steps, and then travels through a forest of tempos as our friend the inchworm sneaks his way through the brush, a true odyssey with a small creepy-crawler. In time to get you back into, perhaps, more familiar territory, the group was able to bring in electronic heavy weight, Gary Numan, for ‘My Machines’ for an all romp where you are welcomed ‘to the sound of now.’ Numan couldn’t have said it better.
The third guest vocalist is Blonde Redhead singer Kazu Makino, and with the added female vocals it only adds more diversity and interest to the album, with the continued amazing instrumentation by Battles. Closer ‘Sundome’ in which Yamantaka Eye lends sound coming from his mouth that feels as though it is coming up from a great distance in the sea, but eventually emerges to really bring some noises to the track. Add in the juanty keys and guitars and it feels like the kind of beach party everyone wants to attend.
The departure of Baxton may have been the best thing to ever happen to Battles as they were able to create a truly diverse album with four well-chosen guest vocalists and instrumental tracks that will be played so often they will be burned into your stereo.
Gloss Drop hit shops yesterday (6th June), so run off and go get a copy!