It’s a shame that the “Twilight” movies completely blow, because their soundtracks continually prove themselves as outstanding anthologies of contemporary music. In particular, their inclusion of New York-based Battles stands above the rest. Fusing the more calculated, science-chic sounds of prog or electronica with a more hard-edged rock, Battles’ first studio album, Mirrored, was revelatory. But now, as their leading man Tyondai Braxton has departed, Battles sophomore album, Gloss Drop feels similarly lacking in direction.
This is not to say that their sophomore album is a failed follow-up. It continues the impressive variety of Mirrored with tracks ranging from reggae-influenced “Ice Cream” to the more techno-inspired “My Machines” (featuring the sultan of synthesizers Gary Numan). But, unlike their first album, which seemed to flawlessly merge these seemingly disparate genres, Gloss Drop remains disjointed. One minute, the beguiling beats of “Africastle” evoke an almost sinister sound, but that darker tone is immediately eclipsed by the light-hearted, almost Latin pop vibes of “Ice Cream.” Both songs may be flawlessly executed and complex in this composition, but together, they sound like two different bands.
The majority of the album indulges in kind of innovative, beat-heavy instrumentation that has made Battles a notable stand out amongst other contemporary experimental groups. However, while their attempt at pop-driven songs are successful, they don’t gel with the rest of the group’s, more instrumental orientation.