Album Review: Battles – La Di Da Di

The Yabba introduces itself like a lurid fizzy drink being slurped into one’s mouth through a bendy straw. Shimmering synths give way to a jauntily rhythmed sound akin to a submarine radar that adjusts itself to a frenetic beat. This is sweet shop stuff for anyone into their psychedelia; a lick of sugary Animal Collective, a dab of laconic drone guitars, a whiff of sour krautrock.

A dazzling blend indeed and all this from only the first song, which constantly changes its mind as to what kind of beast it is. It builds to a clatter that belongs somewhere between Bowie and Monkey: Journey to the West before dissipating into a gleam in the eye of a twisted 90’s raver, nodding incessantly as Dot Net, the second track, presents itself. All acidic stomp; it’s delivered in nauseating waves like a night on MDMA.

It’s only when I get to track three, FF Bada, that I realise the intentions of what is shaping up to be a career-defining album; Battles are inviting us not just to their party, but to everyone’s party. The track in question is pure 2005 era Foals; wriggling, cheeky guitars set to danceable grooves; all misplaced white college-boy energy. I can picture the flailing limbs jutting out at every angle attempting to absorb the music.

For it is a hungry album; Battles desire to swallow every thing whole, digest it and swiftly ram their hand down their throat to present it, like a proud feline retching up a hairball on the doormat.

Summer Simmer continues in the white boy partying vein of FF Bada; a ticking guitar riff reminiscent of Everything Everything that is spun out of control by bubbling synth waves.

But then this is not just a leaf through Battles’ record collections; it is a cutaway image of their brains, and this scan reveals synths as high as mountain-tops and that gleeful, idiosyncratic Battles guitar tone. It all folds in on itself before retiring to bed accompanied by sleepy guitar chords.

Battles - LP

We are now into dream world as Cacio E Pepe floods in on sub-aquatic guitars and calypso keyboards; anything is possible and the synths squeal, soothe, howl and hiss and I think I’m in love with my laptop speakers. A short palette cleanser that gears the listener up for the muscular sound of, ironically, Non-Violence; crunchy, sharing pack sized guitar and a baffling keyboard sits atop the bed of swirly synth that I reclined upon previously. And then, like a charmed snake, I’m awoken with a prod of guitar, before being drum-rolled into the party once more.

This party is a bloody good place to be as I appear to be inside Bobby Gillespie’s head; on Dot Com, rave and beat are injected with a fat bass-line and a nod to Baba O Reilly before it’s completely decimated by a thousand foot high guitar gnash.

Next is a low volume nod to fairground music accompanied by a cutting snare and an intimidating keyboard. Apparently another preparatory tune, Tyne Wear buggers off after less than two minutes to allow the imperial slurp of Tricentennial to trumpet proudly into the night.

Just when it looks like my parade through a thousand parties is almost through, a muggy synth announces Mega Touch; bleeping and winking as it rides atop a twilight bassline that approaches what sounds like Tim Burton and Skrillex having a houseparty.

The penultimate tune, Flora > Fauna, is a short, sharp exercise in getting the fuck down to bangra-tinged electronics before they glitch out at the commencement of Luu Le, which is like finally finding the friend you went out with at the end of a heavy night.

It chirps into your ear excitedly while clouds drift, pulled along by gauzy ambience and, before you know it, your knees are collapsing rhythmically to the bounce that Battles so efficiently peddle; that kind of mashed Caribbean sound. There’s an easily sing-able melody playing on the keyboard and this is truly a uniting end to it all; wah-wah guitar strokes your hair while drums still compel your hips to reticulate. A fond farewell before everything becomes muffled; you are now on the exterior of this brilliance, back on the drizzly pavement awaiting a homeward cab from this unfathomable stupendousness. And if you’re anything like me you will be hitting play again some time very soon.

By Adam Morrison

The Verse Staff

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