Battles sophomore effort, ‘Gloss Drop’, nails it. Meticulous instrumentation, slick guest spots, and let’s face it: God-like drum work from John Stanier, who currently plays in three bands and DJ’s on the side, all comes together to deliver to its listeners a music trip so complicated and so concise, its playability is sure to last countless spins as we all dive in and try to sift apart the loads of riffs, melodies, drum lines, and effects that permeate throughout.
‘Gloss Drop’ is thick. A first listen delivers plenty of promise, but it’s only through dedication and time that what is given here by the band is able to fully sink into the head of its listeners. There are certainly more user-friendly tracks on the album, most of the time being ones in which a guest vocalist is brought in to perform on the track. Specifically speaking, the albums first single, “Ice Cream,” is one of the easiest on the ears on first listen, as kinky keyboard licks intertwine with the smooth voice of guest artist Matias Aguayo. A really fun video has been released for this track on YouTube, along with a limited edition vinyl print, available in “three different flavors,” presumably meaning color pressings.
After their debut success Mirrored, Battles lost one of their most crucial elements, lead singer Tyondai Braxton. A vocal style as original and recognizable as Queen’s Freddie Mercury, Battles opted to forget trying to find a suitable replacement, and instead focused on the instrumentation even more on ‘Gloss Drop’. Often classified as “Math Rock,” Battles features a lot of focus on guitar work. Complex rhythmic structures that break the “norm” of general rock music, the guitar playing featured on ‘Glass Drop’ would undoubtedly take complete control of the album if it wasn’t for the outstanding effort by drummer John Stanier. Equipped with a very minimalist drum set, Stanier operates yet again more like a machine than a human, with impeccable timing, control, and endurance. Any term less than “mind boggling” would not do Stanier justice. He’s just that good.
The speed of the music on ‘Gloss Drop’ is insane. It’s what glues all the pieces together, what gets the energy pumping, and what even gets the listener a little stressed, undoubtedly sure that at some point some nuts and bolts on this “band-machine” are going to come lose at such high velocity, and send the entire song into a spiraling mess of flames and twisted metal. But it never does. The pace refuses to lessen, and somehow, neither do the members of the band, blurring the line between computer-programmed rhythms and authentically played instruments. At times, it’s hard for the brain to wrap itself around how such chaos can occur so precisely. It’s tough to accept that a group of men, and not a machine, is pulling off what your ears are hearing. Accept it anyway. It’s truth.
‘Gloss Drop’ will never compare to Mirrored; not that it’s not as good, but because the path taken by the band has had to change so much with the departure of Braxton. This is a transitional album, as both the band and their fans get used to a new style created to make up for the loss of a distinctive voice. However, just because it’s a transition doesn’t mean it has to lack. Hardly, in this case. Battles proves here that they are not the product of one mastermind, but instead a sum that is greater than its separate parts. Give ‘Gloss Drop’ a listen. And prepare yourself beforehand.
Written By Dean GoranitesBattles – Glass Drop by La Biche & Le Moine