Album Reviews

Album Review: Battles – Gloss Drop (Warp)

By | Published on Wednesday 18 May 2011


Despite featuring an intriguing and eclectic collaboration list including Gary Numan and Matias Aguayo, this new album is essentially business as usual for Battles, ie form over content, wherein the experimentalism takes precedence over conventional musical tenets of melody and rhythm.

You could forgive the cardinal sin of trying too hard if it resulted in some forward-looking music, but sadly this dissonant math-rock is both musically conservative and largely bereft of memorable tunes. Wilfully making ‘challenging’ listening is not in itself big or clever, and whilst some might see Battles as kindred spirits of labelmates Autechre or other sonic adventurers, in truth this reactionary music has ultimately more in common with the likes of Beady Eye.

Like prog rock but without the endearingly silly costumes, the tracks on ‘Gloss Drop’ were effectively made redundant by the sort of stuff Warp was releasing twenty years ago. And as the group flail about, desperately searching for even a shard of a hook, it’s hard not to feel that this is simply a case of tune-shy students jamming to no end other than impressing readers of The Wire. MS

Physical release: 6 Jun