My Top 20 Songs of 2011 #1: Battles – ‘Ice Cream (featuring Matias Aguayo)’

A guitar rings out.

Someone mutters “ice-cream“.

Drums kick in.

Ooh….. oosh….. oomph….. aaah….. Ooh… oosh… oomph… aaah… Ooh. Oosh. Oomph. Aaah. Ooh, oosh, oomph, aaah. OohOoshOomphAaah. OohOoshOomphAaah. OohOoshOomphAaah.”

PAUSE.

Ecstatically funky keyboard riff kicks in.

Vocal enters. It doesn’t sound like a lascivious troll.

If by this point you’re not bopping around in a rapturous manner, you may want to get yourself checked out: it’s quite possible that you’re legally dead.

Battles’ sort-of frontman, Tyondai Braxton, left the band last year, leaving the remaining three members to make their second album on their own. ‘Gloss Drop’, to be clear, is not quite in the same class as their astonishing debut, however, ‘Ice Cream’, the first single off that album, is as good as anything from their debut. After a few listens, you begin to realise that things aren’t as different from that first album as it initially appears. Sure, there’s a little more space, the vocal is far more straightforward and restrained than anything from Mirrored, however, listen enough times and you’ll realise that the lissom rhythm section is still performing stunning muscular feats that are anything but straightforward.

Ice Cream is a song that more than lives up to its title: it is a delicious, delectable delight of a track. It’s an aural Cornetto, a Feast for the ears, a Haagen-doosie of a song (ok, no more bad puns). It’s what the kids would colloquially refer to (if we were living in the 1970s) as a “summer jam”. It’s lithe, it’s sinewy, it’s funky and it’s the most immediate pop record that Battles have ever written. It’s unabashedly joyous.

When all comes crashing down at the end, breaking down into an Off The Wall-esque bassline that’s unrelated to anything else in the track, you’d have to be a much more restrained man than me not to click back and listen to it all over again, and again, and agan, and again…

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2 Responses to “My Top 20 Songs of 2011 #1: Battles – ‘Ice Cream (featuring Matias Aguayo)’”

  1. Sam Says:

    Really enjoyed this little countdown Ewan – cheers for doing it. I also loved Ice Cream, and the whole of Gloss Drop, when it came out, but in recent months I’ve never really reached to put it on again since the summer – I think it might be one to admire rather than love, for me at least. Anyway, in the interest of further reading and what have you, to while away those final days before Christmas – here’s the interview that I did with Battles in May while at Primavera…:

    http://www.loudandquiet.com/2011/07/battles-interview/

    And my top five tracks of 2011 – the ones that made me go “woah”, straight away and then, no matter how many times I’ve heard them, I haven’t got sick of them – are probably:

    1. Blawan – Getting Me Down
    2. Radiohead – Bloom
    3. Lana Del Ray – Video Games
    4. Azealia Banks – 212
    5. Bon Iver – Holocene

    And my top 5 albums of the year (for more or less the same reason):

    1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
    2. Feist – Metals
    3. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
    4. tUnEyArDs – w h o k i l l
    5. Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi

    What were your album picks?

    • chetantos Says:

      Cheers for that Sam. Really glad you appreciated it.

      Gonna publish my Top Ten album list in a couple of days, with my thoughts on Number 1 to follow, but as a sneak preview my Top 5 were:

      1. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
      2. Tune-Yards – W H O K I L L
      3. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
      4. Feist – Metals
      5. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

      Definitely a year for female songwriters and singers.

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