This EP is exciting, accessible, and very cool. The opening track, ‘Suite: Beyond the World’ has an intro as worthy of Foxtrot-era Genesis as the title suggests. As for the rest of the song, if the Beatles, Nashville Pussy, Neil Young and Pink Floyd jammed Ziggy Stardust covers together they’d probably sound just like this. Classic rock riffs meet sweet vocal harmonies in something that does what wheat beer might do if it were a mastering pre-set; it all sounds a bit fuzzy and cloudy, but is somehow all the more satisfying and unexpectedly refreshing for it. Everything and nothing is front-and-centre – drums, bass, guitar, ‘cello, violin, vocals, and Tom Waits’ piano.

The second song ‘Sophie Sands’ is something that John Lennon might have recorded if he’d lived to hear Ben Folds. The boogie section at the end is late-era Zeppelin throw-away fun, leading into the catchy ‘Hello’ which is early Beatles all over, right down to the momentum of the bass guitar. The drummer hits things much harder than Ringo, though, and it sounds like the strings were muted and recorded in a large, tiled bathroom, Chess-Records-style. Love it. ‘Battalion 286: Monmouth Minuet’ is the most intriguing and original cut here – the vocalist’s plaintive tones draw you in, underscored by the insistent melodrama of the bowed strings. An odd but entirely welcome, extended quasi-Egyptian folk interlude takes the place of a regular middle 8, before the band reprises the chorus. The final offering is an alternative mix of ‘Sophie Sands’, stripped back to the nakedness of piano and vocals until the rest of the band rejoins with a more lo-fi ambience for this pass at the tune. Attractive in its simplicity, this is the song where the band seems to sound most distinctly like itself.

Lyrically this album does nothing that hasn’t been done before, and I’m still not sure what the whole thing is actually about – the American civil war battle scene artwork remains confusing. However, I love the madness and Mersey-glam-prog homage that is the main flavour here. It’s unique, and the band is right: this EP is a Victory for Battalion 286.

One Response to “The 286 – A Victory for Battalion 286”

  1. shirley said

    I must hear this some time!

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