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Breton – Other People’s Problems (Review)

Breton, Other People's Problems

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

BRETON like to consider themselves a subversive art collective so it’s little wonder that their long-anticipated debut album, Other People’s Problems, seldom does what’s expected. But it’s also an acquired taste.

In commercial terms, Breton are probably best known for being a collective who work out of a creative HQ known as The Lab (in South Kensington), from where they outfit live, rehearse, make videos, create films and now put together albums.

The LP that has resulted from their first collection of songs is a hard one to pigeon-hole and equally hard to love or loathe.

While most critics have thus far hailed the instant accessibility of former single Edward the Confessor, which lays down something of a signature with its chopped up synths, edgy energy and distorted, downbeat vocals, there are better tracks littered throughout.

Although your ability to truly appreciate the album as a whole probably depends on how much you get on with those vocals, which have a drawl-like quality about them and sometimes become incomprehensible (enhanced as they are by the overall electronic sound they seem to favour).

If you dig their sound, then chances are another former single, Interference, will rate among your favourites… it’s more positive energy, chiming synths and ‘whoah ah woh’ harmonies easy to get behind. The chorus is pretty darn rousing and it’s arguably the outstanding track on the LP.

Wood And Plastic flirts initially with an old-skool hip hop intro before dropping to a scuzzy mix of strings-like synths and manic energy that recalls both early Blur and more recent Klaxons. Although the frequent tempo shifts keep you on your toes, even when you have to strain to make out the lyrics.

2 Years, by contrast, comes over as haunted and atmospheric as anything Massive Attack could create, while The Commission draws things to a close in similarly atmospheric fashion but lacks the emotional depth – it stays more ghostly and perhaps a little more cold. As a finale, it’s a strange way to end things.

But Ghost Note, earlier on, gets your feet tapping and head nodding along to a fizzing concoction of head-rush synths, kick-ass beats and industrial-leaning sensibilities. Vocally, it pushes its luck but the production values are as assured as you’d expect from this collective.

Whether Breton have done enough to really break the mainstream remains to be seen. Some may even suggest they won’t care. Opinion, while certain to be divided, is other people’s problem. Breton are concentrating on what they like and doing it as best and as distinctly as they can.

Right now, it shows more potential than immediate success. But it should be interesting to see how they develop from here. The album is one to cautiously recommend.

Download picks: Interference, 2 Years, Wood And Plastic

Track listing:

  1. Pacemaker
  2. Electrician
  3. Edward the Confessor
  4. 2 Years
  5. Wood and Plastic
  6. Governing Correctly
  7. Interference
  8. Ghost Note
  9. Oxides
  10. Jostle
  11. The Commission