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Battles

When Bill Berry left REM in 1997, Michael Stipe insisted that,
“a three-legged dog is still a dog it just has to learn to walk
differently.”

The Stipean epigram could just as easily apply to Battles one man down after Tyondai Braxton’s departure last year (now concentrating on his solo, classical scores),

‘Gloss Drop’ is undeniably a Battles record, but with an altered
stride.

And if the remaining three feared Braxton’s absence, they’ve
made a feature out of a potential bug – the hole he left behind is not
papered over but embraced,

an effect that offers a deeper, more undulating record than ‘Mirrored’, with more air and intrigue.

While there’s no ‘Atlas’ here to hum in the shower, this remains the sound
of three brains pulsating in absolute union; a master class in rhythm and texture.

‘Gloss Drop’ is not only a triumph over adversity but also one in its own right.

bassist Tim Harris and drummer Josh Madell have constructed a sonic
world submerged in classic US cool, but free from the vagaries of today.

‘Tenth Life’, the band’s eighth album, follows their sprawling three-LP ‘Opus Mixtum’ collection with a much more manageable ten tracks of spiralling
drums,

gut-punching bass, hiccupping Patti Smith-esque vocals and ragged flickers of distorted guitar.

It’s not just wine that gets better with age, you know.

Key to the album’s success is that the band haven’t shed their DIY punk skin altogether.


They’re not barking anymore (singer Eddy delivers an almost nasal-like tone these days), nor are they playing at a hundred miles per hour, but the reverberating arpeggios, the rumbling drums, the major-key bass hooks,


they’re all played loosely and with a feeling of bubbly, slapdash rhythm rather than Brit School

musicianship not unlike pre-electronic Abe Vigoda.

It’s prevalent from the opening ‘Baldessari’ that slips and slides between childlike verses that are nothing if not naively very, very happy

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