There are many striking aspects to Gloss Drop, the follow up to the crazy, cartoonified thrill ride that was Battles’ last album Mirrored. The range of singers, the sense of fun, the nods to post punk pioneers and above all some superb drumming are just some that immediately spring to mind.
On Mirrored the key aspect to the band’s frenetic take in rock was singer and guitarist Tyondai Braxton’s cartoonified voice. But with Braxton no longer part of Battles, the band have opted to instead produce an album that is half rock instrumental and half featuring guest vocalists, most notably Gary Numan.
It’s a move that works a treat especially on the album’s standout track ‘Ice Cream’, which features Matias Aguayo on vocals and is the band’s best since ‘Atlas’ on Mirrored. It also owes a lot to Neon Filler favourite the post punk pioneer former XTC keyboardist Barry Andrews.
Gary Numan’s heavier effort ‘My Machines’ is another highpoint, showing that with the right rock focused backing band the godfather of electronic music still has something to offer.
Among the instrumental highlights is the short Caribbean influenced track ‘Dominican Fade’ and opener ‘Africastle’.
The most striking aspect though is the work of drummer John Stanier. He makes Battles what they are. “A battleship” of a drummer “a man machine” are just some of the accolades he has picked up. We agree, his ability to change direction, be inventive and importantly keep the crazy song structures of Battles together are breathtaking. Gloss Drop proves that coping without Braxton was easy, there is no way the band could survive if Stanier left.
by Joe Lepper