|Steven Battelle - 'Exit Brain Left' (Suffer For My Art)|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Friday, 09 December 2016 06:00|
Was I the only one whose heart sank when LostAlone disbanded in 2014 not long after releasing the excellent 'Shape Of Screams' album? One of the UK's brightest hopes with one of the freshest sounds out there, and they also happened to kick arse live. I was hoping they would be around for many years to come and maybe even obtain world domination. Yet sadly, it was not to be.
Sure, it's tough times for bands out there, but Steven Battelle is not a man to back down and admit defeat that easily. Following a lot of soul searching, the ex-LostAlone frontman returns with a totally self-funded and truly independent solo album that is as grandiose and ambitious as any of the material from his previous band.
'Exit Brain Left' sees Steven Battelle explore open wide sonic landscapes as he comes to terms with going it (Lost)alone. Although there are little Brian May inspired scratchy guitar runs to be found throughout the album, the guitars take a slightly more background role to make way for electronica and various instrumentation that gives the album a cinematic feel.
'The Jump', the first song he penned for this album, sees the neon blue haired singer literally jump into the unknown as he takes his first apprehensive steps into a solo career. Complete with strings and a full school choir by his side.
There's an 80s pop feel to the production. Take self-titled third track 'Steven Battelle' with its tribal beats and rousing pop-tastic chorus: I get a Toto-esque/Disney soundtrack feel going on. "Welcome to my second act, I never left but I'm coming back" - it sees the man continue to search for answers and make a stand for the future.
There's a time and a place for Christmas songs and it's not on your first solo album surely? Yes, it's the right time of year but I won't be wanting to listen to 'Christmas Cartel' in July next year will I? But after just one listen, it's clear that this is not a cheesy 'Don't Let The Bells End' affair. Sure, there are jingle bells going on within the swathes of electronica, but it's a dark and brooding beast. Lyrically, it's about reindeer being cocaine addicts or something, check the video out, maybe it'll make more sense.
'Last Night On Earth' is the closest things get to LostAlone on this album. It powers along on a fuzzed up groove and layered full vocals. One of the few songs that truly rocks on this album. 'Nine Miles Of Light' continues the upbeat feeling of euphoria and seems to offer hope in desperate times.
'Silent Movie Scream' along with album opener 'Powers Of Denial' are quirky euro pop tinged slabs of goodness that sit well, but it's epic closer 'I'm Still Finding Out Who I'm Going To Be' that pretty much sums up where Steven Battelle is at on this, his first solo album. A memorable and catchy piano refrain leads the song as the mesmerising Billy Corgan like vocals then take hold. A great album closer.
Battelle has somehow managed to blend cinematic landscapes, pop sensibilities and moments of guitar histrionics into one winter themed package. In some alternate reality this album is the soundtrack to The Lion King, Frozen and Highlander all at once, and it somehow manages to sound like a Christmas album without actually being a Christmas album, if you catch my (snow) drift.
Searching for answers, 'Exit Brain Left' is as introspective as it gets and the perfect stocking filler for all your rocker mates this year. Just be careful shoving that blue vinyl into a stocking now, won't you?