Pete Gustard has been at the top of his musical mountain for some time now. From his ground-breaking work with Seashaped to his fearless solo career, perhaps his only mistake was being born at the wrong time. Had he been born a few decades earlier he surely would have been recognized universally along with other legendary songwriters and musicians. It was a time where artists were not defined by a specific genre and allowed freedom to approach and blend different styles of music. For those that have followed Pete’s career from the earlier days, his latest album “Battlefield Ballet” really should come as no surprise.
The albums linear notes declare: “A collection of songs that look at mankind’s relationship with their planet and with each other. It also celebrates the individuals that have often stood alone for what is right, and how they succeeded in making positive change despite the odds or personal loss.” The larger point is that with Pete Gustard’s creative fearlessness, comes authenticity and that is as much what makes his music transcendent as is his ability to write a great song.
“Battlefield Ballet” is almost like a culmination of Pete’s inventive discography; a sampler of his talent, with a few new twists thrown in. Right from the thumping opening track, “From The Upper Branch” it is clear Pete Gustard has become a master of song construction. No song on this album is just a repeat of parts. Each song is its own story; each follows its own progression and has its own well-defined purpose.
“Celebration Isolation” resonates with reverberating horns, while “The 14th of July” forges rich and haunting vocal harmonies that drive the arrangement. The jangling acoustic guitars and blanket of strings form a powerful and atmospheric foundation the vocals on “Ballad of Injustice”. Things get even more dramatic on the brilliant “#NotForever”, which has a stunningly rich vocal arrangement and emotional string orchestrations.
“Wake Up” and “In The Daylight” continues the mellifluous resonance of previous tracks, where Pete Gustard’s voice soars alongside the stridently strummed acoustic guitars and steady rhythms. For all his masterful and complex arranging work, Pete is just as much at home when he’s focusing on creating melodic, broadly accessible music. And when he manages to achieve both, on songs like “Career Choices” and “My Quiet Hour”, which features the lead guitar of Gareth Adshead, Pete is absolutely superlative.
Among the songs on this album that have roped me in, is “The Beauty Of Mind”, a super synth-infused slice of neo-electro-pop which differs completely from the rest of the album. As does “Project Eject”, another one of those seemingly simple synth-wave throwbacks that hook you on the first listen. This latter track features the lead vocals of Chris Smith, who also provided backing vocals on many of the other tracks.
All-round, the album “Battlefield Ballet” is another masterwork by one of the most interesting underground rock-based artists you’re likely to hear these days, and every bit as inventive and exciting as anything he has ever done. Each component part of this album sounds immaculate, all of which makes “Battlefield Ballet” a superb addition to Pete Gustard’s body of work.
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