Battles' first album has become something of a modern-day classic in certain circles. It’s a badge of honour. Don’t like Battles? You’re probably not worth knowing. Adored by indie kids and dance aficionados alike, it was a rare album that pretty much everyone could agree was fantastic. In reality, as good as Battles debut album was and is, it’s probably not quite the seminal work of art some take it for. The status it has taken on is slightly – only slightly, mind – overblown.

But what of their sophomore effort?

Knocked for six by the sudden departure of founding member and occasional vocalist Tyondai Braxton, the band strived to continue ploughing forward with the new record by enlisting a smattering of guest-vocalists to step in and fill the gap. They range from the well known (Gary Numan), to the almost wilfully obscure (Matias Aguayo?). Does the gambit pay off? Can the band succeed without Braxton? Well, the answer to both is; partly.

The band’s sound remains largely unchanged, albeit a little more upbeat. The album is littered with the kind of shimmering and spiky guitar-work that underpinned Mirrors, and the spazzy, experimental rhythms that are the bands trademark remain ever-prevalent. But that’s almost the problem. Too much of this feels like Battles by numbers, and much of it lacks the punch and edge that one can now only assume Braxton once provided. As solid as the tunes are, and as technically accomplished as Ian Williams (guitar and synth) and John Stainer (drums) are, too often the songs invite the mind to wander while listening.

Having said that, there are definite highlights. Lead single ‘Ice Cream’ is a joyous burst of digital sunshine, while Futura feels as urgent and exciting as anything the band has ever done. Largely though, it’s up to the guest vocalists to provide the album with some much needed variation and impetus. Electro pioneer Gary Numan is an obvious fit for Battles, and his distinctive croon feels at home over the frantic drums of ‘My Machines’, while album closer ‘Sundome’ is already rolling along quite nicely before Yamantaka Eye begins assaulting the track with his quite frankly bizarre vocals, only to end up creating something curiously rather wonderful.

A shame, then, that the songs in-between feel perfunctory rather than stirring. None of them are bad, but – ‘Ice Cream’ aside – there’s nothing even remotely close to the aural thrill of hearing ‘Atlas’ for the first time; the songs tending to chug along much in the way you’d expect a Battles song to. The uplifting nature of the record means that Gloss Drop should sound brilliant in the sunshine – it’s certainly a summer album - and Battles fans should find more than enough to sate them for a time, but this is by no means the game-changer that some might have hoped for.

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