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Battles - Mirrored (Cover Artwork)

Battles

Battles: MirroredMirrored (2007)
Warp

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: GlassPipeMurderGlassPipeMurder
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I avoided this album for way too long. I'm not sure if it was all the hype surrounding Battles, my disdain for the buzz-genre "post-rock," or some ill-conceived notion that all music without a barefaced manifesto was self-serving, but I kept putting off listening to this until its mini-review penned.
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I avoided this album for way too long. I'm not sure if it was all the hype surrounding Battles, my disdain for the buzz-genre "post-rock," or some ill-conceived notion that all music without a barefaced manifesto was self-serving, but I kept putting off listening to this until its mini-review penned by one of my colleagues left it no longer possible to ignore:

Glitchy post-rock with lots of blips, bleeps, and treated vocals --on the surface, it's what you'd expect from a rock band on Warp. Beneath, however, is an incredibly intelligent rock album -- traces of glam, drum'n'bass, jazz, and punk. Most bands talk about changing music -- Battles just did it.

I initially thought this was probably a hefty overstatement -- and it still may be -- but holy snazzy musicianship, Batman, these guys are good. And what's even more impressive is that the complexity and technicality of their music rarely, if ever, sacrifices the idea that music should still be fun and enjoyable. While a retrospective glance back at Battles' earlier discography would have to acknowledge several occasions of impairment at the hands of "art for art's sake," Mirrored steers clear almost entirely of such pitfalls. Not only is the new dimension of moderately heavy use of vocals added to the mix, the music itself seems more focused, not meandering so much but progressing as if it itself has a purpose.

The telling titles of "Race: In" and "Race: Out" that open and close the album respectively bare reflection of the incredibly developed thematics of songwriting on Mirrored. With members from as diverse associated acts as Helmet, Emery, Don Caballero, Lynx and Tomahawk, the music runs the gamut from songs with a more hard-hitting, straight-ahead approach to atmospheric drifts that somehow keep the listener pulled in through tight control of silent rhythm and ethereal sounds. The album's highlights range from those that start slowly with a meager foundation and build to orgasmic crescendos ("Atlas") to those that burst from the very beginning with otherworldly mastery of the instruments ("Ddiamondd"). There are also those that seem to bubble modestly below the perceived expectation -- that is, until you go back and listen for a second time, noticing all that was missed upon first listen.

So does Battles have a message in their music? Yeah, it's that the best part about music is you can do whatever you want with it. Want to make a nearly flawless album and sway even the most stubborn of punk critics in the process? All the power to you -- the score speaks for itself.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
keithybobeefy (March 12, 2008)

Such an original piece of music. I had listened to Atlas and fell in love with it, but I never went to listen to other stuff. I recently picked up the album and can say that it is an awesome work.

teeto (March 11, 2008)

I really dig it, and the video for atlas is sick

24HourPriapism (March 10, 2008)

parts of this sounded like red hot chili peppers to me. i tried to like it in september/october, but i just couldn't dig it. and i still can't dig it now.

i-type-poorly (March 10, 2008)

I think this synth vocals fucking kick ass. This was my #3 album of 2007. Bad Trails is the only weak spot on the whole disc.

T-34 (March 10, 2008)

I had the same kinda hesitant thoughts when this album came out. The hipsters were shitting themselves over the thing and Pitchfork loved it to death. Despite these negative factors, I checked out a few tracks and then went to see them live in Balto. Once I acclimated to all the art school kids chain smoking around me, I settled in for what turned out to be a cool show. Having seen Battles live onstage, I could appreciate the soundscapes that take place on the album. Seeing how this stuff is created on the fly in a live format was only that much more impressive. It ain't everyone's cup o tea, but before you totally shit on them, try to check 'em out live or on YouTube or whatever. Might change your mind. Or not. Just sayin' is all.

GlassPipeMurder (March 10, 2008)

You must really not have known what to say about the sound of this album, since the only thing you said about it was that quote, nothing original. That quote isn't even right - this is math rock, not post-rock in anyway.

I'm sorry you missed the fourth paragraph. And I don't think pigeon-holing Battles as math-rock would do them any justice given that a LOT of the music is 4/4 and definitely NOT math-rock.

pwfanatic37 (March 10, 2008)

this was the best album of last year hands down. also one of the more fun live acts i saw.

SilentStorms (March 10, 2008)

I just watched the video for Atlas, and those vocals fucking suck. Other than that is was pretty cool. But seriously, those vocals are the reason for my score.

ollywood (March 9, 2008)

haven't listened to this but the cover art is awesome

osloboditelj (March 9, 2008)

You must really not have known what to say about the sound of this album, since the only thing you said about it was that quote, nothing original. That quote isn't even right - this is math rock, not post-rock in anyway. And it was probably the best album of last year.

Spalmer (March 9, 2008)

I like weird math rock and annoying music, but this album was really annoying. The instrumentals were good, but the chirpy chipmunk vocals suck.

sumwon (March 9, 2008)

Definately talented musicians, but this does almost nothing for me. Score is for how much they improve my mood --which is more or less why I listen to music.

llmp (March 9, 2008)

Wow, this is some good stuff. Can't believe I missed it last year.

hubitcherkokov (March 9, 2008)

I got this a few weeks ago (thanks for the heads up, PFresh) and I love it.

shanholtzer (March 9, 2008)

Absolute Fucking Best in 07:

Battles - Mirrored
Baroness - Red Album
Weatherbox - American Art

Torgo (March 8, 2008)

This album made my Top 10 of '07 easily.

DickAround (March 8, 2008)

Could be better. As of now;

Don Cab > Battles

Not new Don Cab mind you. Classic line up. Williams, Banfield, Octopus, whoever could play bass.

marcusd (March 8, 2008)

this shit is so good.

OverDefined (March 8, 2008)

Rules

billnye (March 8, 2008)

this band's good, but man, don cab. that band is incredible

Branden (March 8, 2008)

i cant get into these guys. after about 3 songs it makes me kinda bored. i can see the appeal though, not a bad album by any means.

Hey_Asshole (March 8, 2008)

this record is not good. my buddy was playing one day, and i just could not tolerate it.

pass

AlmostPunkEnough (March 8, 2008)

such a great album. i also put it off for so long, and i feel like an idiot for doing so.

DrGunn (March 8, 2008)

how'd this just get reviewed? anyways, shit rules.

andrewg (March 8, 2008)

incredibly crazy-deadly album.

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