Battles – Gloss Drop (Border Music)

New York band Battles parted ways with their vocalist Tyondai Braxton while working on Gloss Drop, the follow-up to first album Mirrored (which spawned indie hit single Atlas). The group that’s been shoulder-tapped by NME Magazine, Later with Jools Holland, PlayStation 3, Skins and even Twilight has released another album of genre-bending, experimental math-rock that’s still cool and accessible enough to be used to sell high-end cars.

It could be argued that Battles don’t need a vocalist at all, but guest singers are used on four tracks throughout the album. Kompakt producer Matias Aguayo groans and grunts over the introduction of first single Ice Cream before moving into some reggae-inspired vocal stylings over a background of what could be dying robots. One of the most upbeat tracks on the album, the accompanying video would have been amazing if it hadn’t sugar-coated creepy with “cool” in the way Pavement Magazine used to do.

Gary Numan makes a guest appearance on My Machines, a discordant jumble of a track where Numan’s vocals sound as though they’ve been lifted from another album and randomly inserted into this one. The war-like drums at end give the song the overall effect of an unfriendly alien invasion. Sweetie and Shag, featuring vocals from Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead) is perhaps the track that’s most easily recognisable as a song. Yamantaka Eye (The Boredoms) also supplies some crazed mumbling on Sundome.

Gloss Drop is like a Disney soundtrack for Generation Y, complete with bonus Cookie Monster “dum dum dums”, electronic chirps and menacing drums. There’s no Atlas on this album, but Gloss Drop is a symphony for modern ears. Presented in a handsome digipak, the album occasionally tries too hard, but is mostly as fascinating and shiny as the complimentary poster of pink paint entrails.

Kathryn van Beek

Click here to listen to Futura from Gloss Drop