Beginning today we’ll be publishing Premature Evaluations more frequently, and in a briefer format. These posts will also feature point ratings via a 5 Star System, but we’ll consider a more flexible alternative down the road. You should submit your own album rating (and hopefully a comment explaining your rationale) after you read our review and hear the album, which (as always) is out on the Internet if it’s being Premature Evaluated here.
The departure of multi-tasking vocalist Tyondai Braxton created a hole that Battles spend the duration of their sophomore full-length Gloss Drop filling — with various guests. You’ve likely heard the sunny, funky, sweetly titled (and almost too poppy) lead track “Ice Cream” with Chilean-born Kompakt-associated producer Matias Aguayo. It’s the album’s red herring. Elsewhere Gary Numan is Gary Numan on the noisier, more fulfilling “My Machines,” Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino does up-tempo sultry on “Sweetie & Shag,” and Yamantaka Eye goes off (but maybe not off enough) for closer “Sundrome.” There are also eight head nodding instrumentals that offer some of Gloss Drop’s most satisfying excursions — see the swinging, polished, blown-out quasi-Caribbean vibe of the 16+ minute triad of “Futura,” “Inchworm,” and “Wall Street,” their steel-drummed aesthetic cousins “Dominican Fade” and “White Electric,” the briefly heartbreaking “Toddler.” In fact, Ian Williams, Dave Konopka, and John Stanier are so obviously capable of carrying a tune by their lonesome, and inserting a huge emotional weight without words, that you have to wonder if — outside Newman, moments of Eye (who could’ve easily been inserted as a sample) — adding the occasional outside vocal chords was worth the effort.
STEREOGUM EDITORS’ RATING:
STEREOGUM READERS’ RATING:
Gloss Drop is out 6/7 via Warp.