When considering an album’s story, there’s always a great wonder as to how much significance it truly weighs. Some could care less as the music that is flowing from the headphones has more than enough value to analyze and consider; others figure a meaning has to be corresponding with the music. As in, the fruition and the outcome has to be tied into the conception and creation of the album right? For Battles, their arch has been on display because of the abrupt departure of frontman and vocalist Tyondai Braxton after the band’s much-beloved Mirrored. There’s never an objective way to approach music and while the end result is all that matters, there’s never any hurt in considering that for Battles, their break-up happened in the middle of recording the follow-up to the aforementioned album. The remaining trio of musicians came together and recorded Gloss Drop anew as if Braxton was never apart of it and the end result bears an album forthrightly impressive.
Weighing in those fine points, the music on Gloss Drop finds the existing Battles line-up enduring to experiment with sound maneuvers, rhythms and gripping loops. The band’s flighty energy comes through massive amounts of music that is still stretching the boundaries of rock. Lead single “Ice Cream” rushes with scratching guitars and keyboards and while guest vocalist Matias Aguayo offers a spirited featured spot, the band’s driving rhythms ensure of a high-qualified release. The high-pace feel of the tones and the way the band is always in motion is required for any kind of Battles album and Gloss Drop does not disappoint. Where Mirrored delivered on explosive highs that found a cohesive band and their vocalist in prime form, Gloss Drop demonstrates a finely decorated album that delivers on honest exposure.
Although the album shouldn’t be entirely compared to its predecessor, there is a longing for the way everything was fused on Mirrored. The loose-knit feel of Gloss Drop – sounding as if it was created as it rushed out of the trio’s musical brains – makes for an album that lacks continuity. This kind of feeling is permeated onto the songs (maybe it’s all supposed to be that way) and they depict exactly what the cover is displaying: a fluid, constant shift of sound that is flowing in every direction, on top of and all over each other. The way the band enlists the singers to fit their scope, as Gary Numan does on the ranging, rollicking “My Machines,” allows the songs to follow the command of the band, rather than the singer. The vocalists are used as pinch hitters, delivering at the most opportune times.
The majority of the music on Gloss Drop is deliberately instrumental because of the band’s current line-up but who knows, a lot can change from album to album. Maybe Battles will recruit another vocalist and maybe they can break down the walls for another album as a trio. Regardless, even the instrumental songs that feature pure walls of sound and no vocals make for relentless journeys of layers and fantastic developments. Songs like “Futura” showcase a band that sounds invitingly vibrant and magnificently in-tune to what they’re about. It makes for a resounding follow-up that can victoriously stand on its own, considering the whole story or not, Gloss Drop is a definitely strong final outcome.