Saturday, September 29, 2007

Battle--Break The Banks (2007)

Album-Break the Banks
Release Date-Sep 3, 2007
Genre/Style-Indie Rock

Official site-

Review-Reviewed by Sputnikmusic.

When I received Battle’s Break the Banks, it arrived in a white envelope with 11 stamps and my address handwritten on the front. Inside, the band sent a handwritten note to me with an e-mail address to contact them back. It’s not much, but the fact that the band, not the label (Transgressive, a label boasting Regina Spektor and The Shins in the UK), sent me the album with obvious care makes an inference to the detail-oriented way they go about making music.

Despite surprising success for the band, Break the Banks is their first LP. After releasing a few singles and quickly being signed to Transgressive, their single “Tendency” reached #37 on the UK charts, impressive for a band without a single album. Albeit a great song, “Tendency” is a bit of a red herring, with its hipster lyrics (I know I dance like a drunken arse) and uptempo grooves. Break the Banks follows a much more subdued, focused sound based on atmospherics and coherent, sprawling melodies. That is not to say the band has lost their catchiness, however. “The Longest Time”, the album’s lead single, begins with a powerful drum groove and sliding bass before a great guitar riff comes and Jason Bavanandan, vocalist, sings his anthemic lyrics “How long have I been living in limbo? How long?” His voice combines Bono and Morrissey and while he is not the most melodic of singers, he cuts through the sound and makes sure his words are heard. Overall, the sound is not too far removed from Franz Ferdinand, The Arctic Monkeys, and the current British indie scene, though certainly not a clone of the aforementioned more popular bands. They have their own distinct sound.

Luckily, the album diverges from the dance-rock style and proves to never get boring. “Paper Street”, another single, starts from simple acoustic guitar chords and clean guitar melodies. Bavanandan steps up to the plate in the quieter setting, providing his most melodic material on the album. From the lush beginning, it grows to a bombastic close in a short four minutes, a constant progression of volume and intensity. “The Time for Talking Is Almost Over”, although the shortest song on the album, switches feels from a triplet 6/8 to a duplet 2/4 masterfully like a lighter version of Oceansize. As an album, what really makes Break the Banks stand out is the ethereal, airy atmosphere conveyed throughout its passing. “Looking For Bullets” is the most atmospheric of the album, with a drum loop providing the main idea of the song while undulating guitar melodies, a warm bassline, and whispering ambience provide a vast soundscape for Bavanandan’s typical vocal performance.

Many of the songs, however, simply fall short of the others’ excellence. “History”, placed between the two most original songs on the album, sounds all too familiar, with a Police-esque sound and nothing new to bring to the table. “North Sea” gets repetitive rhythmically and does not possess enough of a catchy hook to really work. Still, these errors are minimal and overall, Break the Banks is one of the most enjoyable debut albums of the year. The band possesses an original sound that still maintains a pop sensibility. “The Longest Time”, “Paper Street”, and “Demons” could all stand as fantastic singles on the charts. The band certainly has a bright future ahead of them, seeing as this is only their debut album and they are already releasing on a major UK label. Only time will tell what happens next.

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