Review Summary: An incredibly edgy debut album, has it created a genre for itself?
Music can become a strange business. Take Breton, a bunch of indie film directors that began creating soundtracks for their own films. Then they decide to take the avant-garde step of creating music. It sounds like a horrid plan; the music is created in their very own ‘BretonLABS’ (note: suitably hipster use of caps lock), a once derelict bank, while their sometimes fifth member creates a cinematic landscape to their dubsteppy-arty-electronic-indie music. Sound irritating? You’d be wrong.
The opening track, Pacemaker slides into life with MacBook edited jittery violins layered over a heavy bass rhythm. It’s astoundingly fresh. Lead singer, Roman Rappak’s marble mouthed vocal work contrasts perfectly with the bleakness of the track, sounding in many ways like an irked Tom Vek. Its desolate, but beauty can more than what is conventionally perceived as so. Electrician slides into a more conventional indie-rock mould, a catchy chorus combines with purposely-lazy harmonies creating a relaxed uplifting atmosphere.
The lead single, Edward the Confessor begins where Pacemaker left off, painting a bleak soundscape of their Native London, a brittle synth line flows throughout pounding below Rappak’s smothering vocals, “Take everything your filthy hands can carry/ We'll leave everything just like we found it”. For music created in something a coldly as a lab, 2 Years wallows in a smoky atmosphere created by some post-dubstep production, its heart wrenchingly beautiful. Just envisage an Alt-j and The xx collaboration you’ve got the idea.
Wood and Plastic bustles along with its layered noises before coming to Governing Correctly, while at first seeming oddly subtle, it quickly bursts into life courtesy of glitchy guitars and synths dragged along courtesy of a pounding bass line; its brave, a sound the Foals have only managed to pin down in their third album. Interference serves as the albums nucleus, showcasing the bands ability to enter the mainstream. Though new ideas flow into the listener’s ideas at breakneck speed, the sound remains astonishingly refined and mature, not a single sound is superfluous to the album as a whole.
If the album has a weak link, its Ghost Note, while remaining excellent in isolation it lacks the creative fervor of the rest of the album. The closing tracks of Other People’s Problems show now collapse in creativity, Oxides opens with a Harp (Yes, a Harp) before breaking down into dry, corrosive synth work set between bizarre bridges. For me, the concluding track The Commission is Breton’s greatest achievement. Here a landscape is created. An expansive one. Rappak’s vocals echo through the void created “This was always on the cards/ save yourself for someone else”. While subtle synths match Rappak’s vocals by descending through the darkness created before collapsing into silence.
Other People’s Problems is a game changer, while the British indie scene is currently dominated by the likes of Alt-j and Two Door Cinema Club, Breton’s abrasive originality may by too much for some, but anyone willing to take the journey will be rewarded with one of the most original and accomplished debut albums of the past decade.