Battle Ave., “Solar Queen”

Niccolo Porcello

battle ave

Upstate New York’s Battle Ave. are preparing to release their second full-length LP, Year of Nod. The follow-up to 2011’s War Paint—a meandering 45-minutes of dark glam rock, that, in retrospect, seem clearly delineated from the previous year’s influential The Suburbs. There were all of the hallmarks of the dancey-but-not-too-dancey, baroque-but-not-too-baroque stylings that were coming out of Montreal at the end of the aughts. This makes sense as Battle Ave.’s Jesse Alexander had spent those same years as a songwriter in that very city, inevitably receiving some influence from a scene that has itself sneakily influenced the past decade of indie.

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The latest single from Year of Nod, “Solar Queen”, takes a somewhat different path than War Paint, refraining from such levels of bombastic gloom and finding a higher emotional register. From the opening, halting moments there is a warmth imbued in Alexander’s vocals that act in tandem with the blanketing instrumentation to create sound akin to a sonic cocoon. By the time a lush alto sax kicks in—around the 4:40 mark—falling victim to Battle Ave. is nearly unavoidable. The lyrics are indicative of the warmth of the track but also the landscapes of the Catskill Mountains (at the foot of which, Battle Ave. reside). At one point Alexander wonders, “How can something come from nothing?”, which strikes me as particularly telling of their geography. The sheer wonder the remote Catskills embody, paired with their brand of lush, gloomy pop seems, more or less, like something from nothing.

Year of Nod will be out May 5 via Seagreen Records. You can stream “Solar Queen” below.

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