Steven Battles, The Party Monster EP

Brevity and levity rarely coincide with depth, yet Steven Battles’ The Party Monster EP manages to happily marry these seemingly disparate elements into a cohesive mix. As a result, The Party Monster EP stands out as a short six-track ride rife with more musical flare than most double discs. And the best part is it’s 100 percent free via the Internet as of December 2010.

It’s hard to describe what this album sounds like, because this party monster is more Frankenstein than anything else: part indie pop, part post-punk, with generous portions of gangsta bravado and rockstar arrogance thrown in for good measure. Battles’ unique mash up of influences defies all logic and taste by becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

After listening to Battles’ collection of songs, I began to wonder, “is it possible for something to feel like hip-hop but sound nothing like it?” Bouncy piano riffs, crisp guitar work, sweet backing vocals, rich instrumentation and the occasional M.I.A-esque all-gunshot drum fill comprise this record. Tracks like “Bang Bang, Shoot ‘Em Up” exemplify how seamlessly all these pieces work together.

Battles’ lyrics also evoke different moods in rapid succession, which is somewhat of a double-edged sword. From sincere ballads to confessionals about casual sex to narratives detailing ridiculous gunfights, the manic way Battles tackles his topics can be hard to follow at times. From track-to-track, Battles ranges from sugary sweet crooner to party-driven train wreck. Still, Battles’ rollercoaster writing-style is entertaining to say the least and it’s what makes this EP so interesting to begin with.

Production-wise, this album presents another set of contradictions. On one hand, it’s rich and textured, making it seem lush. But underlying this polish is a sort of garage-rock quality. It’s like a world-class chief walked into an IHOP kitchen and managed to make a gourmet meal out of hash browns and eggs. Battles and company definitely got the most out of their workspace. This album is a testament to their skill.

This EP’s release was long overdue. These tracks surfaced on Myspace as early as 2009 but were neither offered for sale nor free download. Battles then went on to form electro-dance outfit Chrome Pony. Under that moniker, he played festivals and venues across the state. It was beginning to feel like The Party Monster EP would never really see the light of day. But fortunately for music, The Party Monster EP has unexpectedly arrived. Download it here:

(c) James Nghiem All rights reserved.

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