Kansas City’s very own Beautiful Bodies struck gold when they signed to Epitaph Records after causing a stir in the scene. The band follows an extensive routine when forging their music. They revolve around creating energy and then proceeding to feed off of their own creation and use the potential energy to release even more than they started with. No exaggerations here, their debut Battles is about bringing as much fun and drive into every track without every trying to settle for less.
One thing I have always admired letlive. for is their ability to combine pop-laden choruses within complex songs and more dissonant structures. Alicia Solombrino has this same kind of natural flow to her voice that allows for the phrasings to bounce around and get stuck in your head. She starts off the album this way with her command on “Animals.” Another example of this is the song “Good Luck and Good Night,” where she takes her approach to an almost rap pace before delivering another catchy chorus. This track is also one of the heavier ones on the album, featuring fuzzy distorted guitar licks at every bend in the song.
If there is one thing that may be lacking across these 12 songs, it would be the band’s tendency to stick to the same pseudo-aggressive pulse in a majority of the tracks. Thomas Becker (The Get Up Kids) has always had this formula to follow, with the main riffs supporting “Capture & Release” and “She’s a Blast” distinguishing how simple and one-dimensional the formula can be. After the riff the guitar chords kick in for the chorus and repeat with a bridge somewhere. Beautiful Bodies do have a few tricks up their sleeves to stay from being completely one dimensional, however, and one of them is the drum work provided by Becker. His intricate patterns help dictate and prepare listeners for the explosions of sound in virtually every chorus, adding to the fight for the space in the mix between other instruments floating around the main motifs adding atmosphere and dimensions to the part.
“Subversive Lover” is the equivalent of a Head Automatica b-side with its catchy dance groove and Solombrino’s spastic melodies. The guitar tone is magnificent, not being too low-end and having enough brightness to keep the whole progression in a harmonious light. “Ravens” is a darker track without much of a progression to follow, it was refreshing to have it sit in the middle of the record. “Forever” and “Invincible” are pop anthems all the way, calling on every listener to sing along with the infectious melodies and relatively easy-to-follow lyrics.
Battles is an exciting album to listen to because of all the lively songs leaving listeners bright-eyed and ready to dance around. Just as the album is ready to close, Beautiful Bodies throws “Gone, Gone, Gone” as the closing song. It is a ballad and a bit cheesy for my tastes, but if there is one thing I have learned listening to this band it is that Solombrino and Becker can make anything worth singing along too.