Once the frontman of the explorative rock trio LostAlone, who announced their split back in 2014 after nine years as a group, Steven Battelle hasn’t let his creativity go to waste.
Now honing his craft as a solo singer/songwriter, Battelle‘s first album, ‘Exit Brain Left’, saw him leave behind the driving grunge of his former band in favour of more experimental avenues. Now, on his second release, ‘Midnight Between Months’, that feat looks set to continue even further.
The gliding, orchestral opener ‘Who’s Knocking At My Door?’, is light and airy, but is soon completely juxtaposed by the bass-heavy aggression of ‘Apple Tree’ that follows, and with only two tracks in, you encounter the fundamental problem of ‘Midnight Between Months’: Battelle throws so many ideas onto this one record – all of which are largely brilliant, displaying vastly experimental and inventive musicianship – but don’t quite coherently fit together as delicately as they could.
That aside, it’s hard to not appreciate Battelle‘s excellent display of musical range on the length of this album. At one moment he can be delivering Muse levels of electro hard rock, like the eccentric aforementioned ‘Apple Tree’, or mammoth lead single ‘Shark Infested Stalker’ – a song that enters an almost Queen mode before, once more, piling on the distortion in a neck-snapping turn of pace.
‘Running Wild In New York City’ has an 80s pop spin that oozes groove, ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ has a stompy folk rock twang with an deeply electronica chorus, and, again, Queen‘s influence becomes clear again on the countless amounts of harmonies on ‘Shipwrecked’. This record is like a suitcase packed with outfits for every season, and Battelle mostly pulls them off too.
That said, the structural issues aren’t reserved for marring the album as a whole, but individual tracks too. ‘Shark Infested Stalker’‘s main section is fabulous, but the latter parts of it feel too much like separate tracks. ‘Relax!!!’ also has a similar issue: after a really solid track, it awkwardly cuts from dark-symphonic rock to a one-take recording of Battelle on an acoustic guitar, and it feels clunky.
Yet, for all the faults that can be found with the structure of the record, it’s really hard not to love the majesty of creativity that Battelle displays on ‘Midnight Between Months’. He’s clearly a pure creative talent with a lot to offer, even if all his ideas don’t exactly dance to the same beat.