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Battles:: Mirrored (Album Review)

After a string of intermittently brilliant EPs, these hi-tech New York instrumentalists finally release their first proper full-length, and with it propel themselves into quite another league. There was always something uniquely enticing in their amalgam of machine-code guitar hooks, electronics and brainy robotic rhythms, but a new sense of warped pop suss and a constant barrage of ear-catching ideas makes Mirrored all the more surprising and addictive. The biggest change is the addition of vocals – often just wordless, dehumanised hums and whistles, as on the much-praised single Atlas, reinforcing the odd sense of Battles being as much some kind of bio-mechanical experiment as a band. The way repeated listens allow its unobvious rhythmic and melodic logic to take root is fantastically rewarding – by the time album closer Race Out reprises and mutates the themes of the opening salvo Race In, your brain might feel like it’s been completely rewired. Terrific stuff.
(Tom Hughes)