For many, the name Steven Battelle is associated with the mid-naughties British progressive rock/emo act LostAlone. With almost 10 years experience in a band revered by fans and critics alike, ‘Exit Brain Left’ represents a brave excursion into the wildly experimental and imaginative side in this, his debut solo release.
After LostAlone’s break up in October 2014, Battelle found himself at a loose end. With no heavy touring schedules to prepare for and no pressure from record labels, peers and press, the early concepts for ‘Exit Brain Left’ were formed. After a year travelling and writing Battelle took to the studio with Dan Weller (Enter Shikari, Sikth) to create an album that is so much more than a collection of songs. This is an art installation, an extension of everything Battelle saw, heard and experienced on his travels. It channels everything from Bowie and Queen to high end 80’s pop of bands like Toto. There is a lot going on, showing a real passion and flow of ideas that have all forced their way into Battelle’s work.
Many solo efforts consist of an acoustic guitar and maybe some orchestration, but usually result in a stripped back aesthetic. This is the polar opposite. Songs like ‘The Jump’ are performed with an orchestra and a full school choir. ‘Police and Thank You’ features samples of Home Alone burglar Marv while ‘Absent Magic Part II’ deals with the passing of David Bowie. Christmas also gets a nod in the electronics infused ‘A Christmas Cartel’.
The word grandeur springs to mind throughout, but Battelle would do well to remember that sometimes beauty is conjured from the simplest of places. Each song is busy, there are great parts but these fight to be heard. This makes a lot of ‘Exit Brain Left’ hard to access for fans old and new. This could have been a triumphant return but instead, sadly, this debut lands wide of the mark.
‘Exit Brain Left’ by Steven Battelle is released on 2nd December on Suffer For My Art.
Words by Jay Harrison (@Just_Jay_89)