orgive the rampant NME-esque hyperbole, but you can forget Justin Timberlake: This is FutureSexy! I don’t mean Long Blondes sexy; I’m thinking Darryl Hannah in Blade Runner. And before you start, I know she’s a robot. It isn’t like I used Jessica Rabbit as an example.
Pitched as a perfect hybrid of man and machine, Battles step in with roster of former alt.rock heavyweights from Helmet and Don Caballero, armed to the teeth with the traditional tools of a rock band, augmented by a cavalcade of electronic doodads. As a futuristic promise of the seamless cooperation of humanity and technology, Mirrored fails, but mainly because it’s set itself some pretty dizzy heights. Battles have created an album that combines techno-expertise with organic-soul. Kind of like Darryl Hannah.
On release of lead single ‘Atlas’, much was made of the heavily treated chipmunk style vocals, but to concentrate on them would be to ignore the electro glam stomp being layered behind them. It’s a stomp loaded with gyrating crotch: insistent and urgent, playful and innocent all at once. Bo Peep in bondage, if you will. Opener ‘Race:In’ mashes together swells of Steve Reich’s orchestration (although what’s being orchestrated remains a mystery: Guitars? Synth? Laptop?), John Stanier’s ever-reliable military drumming and layers of King Crimson style virtuoso playing. ‘Ddiamondd’ sounds like Devo, if they’d ever expanded to being a double-Devo. It’s one of the more awkwardly novel moments, but a welcome relief all the same. ‘Leyendecker’ burns with the kind of smouldering glare you’d imagine Heathcliff to fix Kathy with, and boasts a drum break similar to the kind found on D’n’B-guru Photek’s 90’s output.
There are so many facets to this record, it’d be impossible to document them all on one page. By turns, it’s sensitive, sinister, forceful, meditative, and crude. But it’s also special enough to convince that none of these are false. The playing is mechanically tight, but you can tell that it is still playing rather than processing. Mirrored isn’t perfect, but you could say the same about Daydream Nation, and I know Sonic Youth are the only band tearing me from Battles at Primavera Sound. It’s May, and I think I may have my Record of The Year. Sorry, I thought I was NME again. Should there be an exclamation mark here or something?! (No. It looks disgusting.) Sorry!!!!