Battles: La Di Da Di Review

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Artist: Battles
Album: La Di Da Di
Label: Warp Records (
Release Date: September 18, 2015
Website: (

battles La Di Da Di album
Battles: La Di Da Di album

Reviewed by: Tre Simmons

If anything is clear on Battles’ third album, La Di Da Di, it’s that they never needed a vocalist to begin with. The now trio of Ian Williams, John Stanier, and Dave Konopka began their group in 2002 with Tyondai Braxton, who initially played the role of “lead vocalist” – as far as he could be considered that – and multi-instrumentalist to the then fledgling band. With their debut album, Mirrored, they rushed out of the gate with heavily effected, technicolor-shaded vocals that resulted in amazing songs such as the opening salvo “Race : In” and chipmunk diva cut “Leyendecker”. After Braxton’s departure, they enlisted a handful of guest vocalists to release their most pop-indebted release yet, their sophomore venture Gloss Drop. On La Di Da Di, they eschew vocals completely and favor a middle ground between their two albums, with the technical precision of the former and the confetti-and-gloss sheen of the latter.

La Di Da Di flirts with accessibility, but ultimately comes across like a pastel-hued robot coming up with its own ideas of what pop is, after being programmed to understand the genre. Songs such as “Dot Com” and “Dot Net” most ably demonstrate this, with the songs varying only occasionally to come to their climaxes, resulting in heavily hit drums and guitar crescendos in key moments. For the most part, however, these songs loop by pleasantly the way most Battles songs do, displaying the full scale of the band’s technicality even as they seem effortlessly made. The high-pitched squeals and oscillating tones throughout the album, especially in songs such as “Non-Violence,” keep the album grounded in humanity and make sure the listener knows that the ideas here were put together with the flesh and blood constituents that comprise the band.

While La Di Da Di feels contented in its repetitiveness and tone, the album offers respite from potential monotony in crucial moments. The shorter interlude-like tracks (those under three minutes) offer brief glimpses of the bubblegum tones this album could’ve fully exhibited if it was edited even further. In contrast to this, the longer songs such as “The Yabba” and “Summer Simmer” show off the chops of each member of Battles while still sticking to the math-y sound they’ve been known for in the past. The balance of La Di Da Di’s bright sonic palette mixed with the precision of each cog in its aural machine keeps the album interesting and entertaining over its 50 minute runtime. The best summation of Battles’ talents lie right in the cover art of their third album’s now consistently great discography: glossy breakfast foods lined up in a perfect diagonal pattern, but with a slight human touch in the way each food overlaps.

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