Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Battles

  • Mirrored [Warp, 2007] B-
  • Gloss Drop [Warp, 2011] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Mirrored [Warp, 2007]
Just when I'd made my peace with pop prog and begun to hope arty prog would prove another casualty of the age of digital instantaneity, these postrock warriors get the bright idea of adding tune and humor to their higher mathematics. Just goes to show how hard up some aesthetes are for the hooks and jokes that are still so plentiful in less rarefied precincts. Swing less than Jeff Beck, Dixie Dregs or Big Lazy, rock more than Gentle Giant, Love Tractor or Tortoise. Will mean a lot to anyone who cares deeply about a few of the above-named and, no matter what you've read, not much to anyone who doesn't. B-

Gloss Drop [Warp, 2011]
Take the title literally. The prospect of touring having proved too much for leader-keyboardist Tyondai Braxton, out go the castrati choruses, the precision interlocks, the neatness that is the curse of math-rock. Instead, general pitch levels drop while the drums explode. "Like a car wreck, only in tune," I heard one guy puzzle as he left a show that revved up all the consequent incommensurabilities even further. So much better than a Ferrari that never needs a tune-up, muse I. In the studio they're less accident prone, and they still tintinnabulate some. But now they also grunt. A-