The Battles are an experimental Math Rock group formed in 2002 by drummer John Stanier (formerly of Helmet), bassist/guitarist/miscellaneous effects man David Konopka (formerly of Lynx) and guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams (formerly of Don Cabellero), along with vocalist and guitarist Tyondai Braxton, who left after their first album.
Noted for being very technically skilled, relying heavily on electronic effects and looping and, contrary to a lot of indie/experimental bands, for not shying away from using songs featuring a lot of vocals...even if the vocals are so strange and altered that they can sound like a smurf singing. Comparisons were frequently drawn between their debut album Mirrored and the Chipmunks in this regard.
Their song "Atlas", from their debut album, has popped up everywhere, being used in many, many commercials (but, ironically, usually without the singing), perhaps most famously in LittleBigPlanet; their song "Ice Cream", from their second album, is following a similar path, including the vocals part!
Originally a quartet, and then a trio for most of the 2010s, the band is now the duo of Stanier and Williams after Konopka left in 2018.
- EP C (EP, 2004)
- B EP (EP, 2004); these two EPs were later rereleased as a unit
- Mirrored (LP, 2007)
- Gloss Drop (LP, 2011)
- Dross Glop (an collection of remixes of the songs on Gloss Drop by various electronic artists, originally released as 4 EPs in 2012)
- La Di Da Di (LP, 2015)
- Juice B Crypts (LP, 2019)
- Book Ends: Mirrored begins with "Race: In" and ends with "Race: Out", which briefly quotes "Race: In".
- Common Time: Used more often than you might expect from a band usually classified as "math rock", although they do squeeze a lot of unusual rhythms into their 4/4 songs.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: One of their trademarks is electronic manipulation of vocals, so that when they have lyrics at all, it's sometimes difficult to make them out.
- Instrumentals: Here and there for most of the band's career, then taken up to 11 with La Di Da Di, their first set without any vocals on it at all.
- Looped Lyrics: Again, a natural consequence of their minimalist approach and their electronically manipulated vocals.
- Motor Mouth: It's difficult to make out the lyrics of "Ddiamondd" because of the high-energy music and Tyondai Braxton's accelerated vocals.
- Performance Video: The music video for "Atlas" simply shows the band performing the song, albeit in the weird reflective cube depicted on the cover of their debut album, Mirrored◊
- Rock Trio: After the departure of vocalist Tyondai Braxton after their first album, they have sort of fit into this mold, although their heavy use of electronics and effects means that their guitarist and bassist don't limit themselves to guitar and bass. They also recruited several guest vocalists for their second album, rather than singing themselves.
- Scatting: The band doesn't put much focus on lyrics, using vocals as just another instrument, so wordless vocals of various types come up a lot. Quite notable is the guest appearance of Yamantaka Eye of Boredoms chanting nonsense throughout "Sundome".
- Self-Deprecation: John, their drummer, has said he doesn't consider himself as very talented.
- Textless Album Cover: The cover to Gloss Drop contains nothing but an unidentifiable lump of pink ooze◊. (It's actually a sculpture by Dave Konopka.)
- The cover of their third album, La Di Da Di has a similar cover by Konopka, of a bizarre, surreal breakfast arrangement◊.
- Three Chords and the Truth: While their music is very complex, the influence of minimalism and electronica on their music allow them to do quite a lot with even fewer chords. "Ice Cream" is built on a simple repetition of two chords, and "Atlas" almost entirely consists of one (although a second one comes in briefly midway through.)