I’ve been putting off writing about this album for awhile for fear of what I might say regarding the work of some of my favorite artists. I loved Williams-era Don Caballero. I loved Stanier-era Helmet. I played the bejesus out of Mirrored. The incredible pedigree of Battles really culminated into something special on Mirrored and the album ended up seeming like a collective magnum opus for all of the band members. I’ve been hoping for new Battles songs ever since then and I gotta be honest, the songs I’ve heard off Gloss Drop weren’t what I was expecting. There are still some very distinctly Battles ideas being played within these songs – different time signatures, abrupt shifts, looped guitars, etc., but even though their musical phrasing is similar, everything on this album feels less playful, less noodly, less A.D.D., and far less immediate… and not in a good way. Tyondai Braxton quit the band before they recorded this album and doesn’t show up on any of these songs. To fill the void they used a slew of guest singers to fill in on tracks, and they all sound terrible. Battles just doesn’t make music that easily meshes with vocals, and Braxton’s the only guy that really figured out how to effectively sing for math rock. Of course, the songs with vocals are decidedly less mathy than those without, and perhaps that’s the problem I’m running into. Nevertheless, Battles is moving and shaking into new territory with Gloss Drop, expanding on their sound, and perhaps even their fanbase… I just can’t enjoy their new direction like others may be able to. Anywho, have a listen to “Ice Cream” and “My Machines” below. Perhaps you won’t be as disappointed as I was. Gloss Drop comes out July 11, 2011 on Warp Records.