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Esser - Braveface

Esser, Braveface

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

ESSER – aka Ben Esser – gloriously lives up to his potential with keenly-anticipated debut album Braveface, an excellent collection of smart, home-grown pop.

The buzz surrounding the mega-quiffed 23-year-old Essex lad has been building ever since I Love You first dropped on the Merok label in 2008.

It continued to build around the releases of the catchy Headlock and the hands-down classic that was Satisfied, which charmed with its mix of Eastern European sounding pianos and hip chorus.

Esser, it seemed, had what it takes to appeal to the masses without sounding like a conformist. His music had an appealing home-grown feel and cleverly tapped into the electronic sound sweeping modern music at the moment, while his vocals had an appealing Damon Albarn-style quality (at times).

All these qualities (and more) are expanded throughout Braveface, a real good time of a record that should easily propel Esser into superstardom.

Tracks like Satisfied and I Love You still stand out as obvious and immediate highlights but Esser quickly underlines the fact that there’s more to his album than just the singles with the feisty, “la la la” laden, foot-stomper of an opening track that is Leaving Town. From its drum roll intro to its vibrant chorus, this is a hip-swinger that combines early indie Blur-style qualities with something very contemporary.

Title track Braveface then pleases with its easygoing wonky electronica and melodic “ba ba ba”‘s, while Bones drops one of the best choruses on the LP and endears with its lush acoustic melodies and subtle beats.

Work It Out is a funky crowd-pleaser and former single, while the rockier tendencies of This Time Around give rise to a smartly written warning to a future love about Esser’s potential to disappoint in the relationship stakes. It’s bouncy but pointed.

Real Life, meanwhile, slows down the tempo, flirts once again with Albarn-like vocal tendencies and displays a maturer side to Esser’s make-up, before Stop Dancing brings the album to a close with four minutes of slinky sexiness that hints at Hot Chip while simultaneously dropping one of the most enticing choruses on the LP.

It ensures that you depart Braveface as impressed and excited as you started it – thereby confirming that Esser is a very special new talent indeed!

Download picks: Satisfied, I Love You, Bones, Braveface, Real Life, Stop Dancing

Track listing:

  1. Leaving Town
  2. Braveface
  3. Headlock
  4. Bones
  5. Satisfied
  6. Work It Out
  7. I Love You
  8. This Time Around
  9. Real Life
  10. Stop Dancing