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Battles - La Di Da Di (Album Review)

Friday, 25 September 2015 Written by Ben Bland

In a nutshell, Battles have always suffered from being too good. Their own musical inventiveness, and playfulness, seems to overtake them at every given opportunity, to the extent that sometimes it feels – as an outsider – that you’re not invited to the party. Does their third album, ‘La Di Da Di’, with its ludicrous title, have the antidote to that?

Of course it doesn’t, and in some ways it’s all the better as a result. Battles, cult act that they are, need not be reliant on musical revolution to win new converts. Instead they can focus on their niche, knowing that word will spread comfortably, thanks to the chatter their records always generate. Judging by the fact that the group are stepping up to play 1,000-plus capacity venues now, they are doing pretty well on this front either way.

‘La Di Da Di’ is cultivated for those who want to enjoy “complicated” music, and knowingly so. At times it’s tremendously good fun. Dot Net and Summer Simmer are mini riots. Messrs Konopka, Stanier and Williams sound like they’re engaging in a game of musical twister, their respective instruments ending up in increasingly baffling but amusing shapes.

This time Battles are vocal-less, completely, which allows the focus to remain entirely on the interplay between three awesomely talented musicians.

However, it should be remembered that – especially on their debut, ‘Mirrored’, recorded with vocalist Tyondai Braxton – voice was as much a part of the dextrous Battles spectacle as any other aspect of their arsenal. On ‘Gloss Drop’, meanwhile, the turns from guest vocalists Kazu Makino and Gary Numan were unpredictable highlights.

While it may not be the lack of vocals specifically that is to blame, there is little denying that ‘La Di Da Di’ is altogether more predictable than its predecessors. The ways in which these compositions evolve feel bound by the conventions of the trio’s unconventional nature. In other words, it’s Battles doing their finest impression of themselves.

This perhaps makes ‘La Di Da Di’ the perfect Battles album for fans seeking an opportunity to lose themselves in the trio’s alternate musical universe. For others, it might just feel like a temporary – and not necessarily entirely enthralling – diversion. Pretty much what one might have expected from a new Battles album, then…

Battles Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 23 2015 - MANCHESTER Academy
Sat October 24 2015 - BRISTOL Colston Hall
Sun October 25 2015 - GLASGOW O2 ABC Glasgow
Mon October 26 2015 - CAMBRIDGE Junction
Wed October 28 2015 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Sun April 24 2016 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

Click here to compare & buy Battles Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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