After what seems like years Breakbot has finally released his debut album ‘By Your Side’ via Ed Banger Records. But have the 13 tracks of funk, disco and soul been worth the wait? We’re not sure.
The over-riding feeling you get from the first listen of ‘By Your Side’ is it’s all a bit too same-y and, in places, not all that exciting. Unfortunately the album does little to rise above his most famous track ‘Baby I’m Yours’ as you’re wooed by a trio of vocalists from the likes of Irfane, Ruckazoid and Pacific, which on the whole don’t always work together as well as you might think.
Irfane’s vocals crop up on three tracks, with varying levels of success; there’s the now infamous ‘Baby I’m Yours’, ‘One Out Of Two’ and ‘The Mayfly And The Light’. Elsewhere, you’ll find the vocals from Ruckazoid and whilst his vocals are very good you can’t help but feel that some of the songs end up sounding like Michael Jackson b-sides of varying quality. It’s hardly a criticism, but in our eyes there’s only one MJ and trying to copy him is an exercise in the futility.
Where the album does begin to shine are the four instrumental songs; ‘Break of Dawn’; ‘Programme’; ‘Easy Fraction’; and ‘Intersection’. They’re a lot less predictable than some of the vocal-led songs and for those of you who are looking for an album of dynamic French funk, pop and soul you’ll be right home.
When Breakbot decides to take some risks is where you’ll find the best of ‘By Your Side’. ‘Programme’ is a case in point; a medley of chirpy 80’s lead guitars wrapped around an enticingly spooky intro, all served on bed of tactile percussion. For us it’s one of the best tracks on the album and shows that when he steps outside his comfort zone you’ll certainly hear some of his best work.
It’s the same again for the intro track ‘Break of Dawn’ it’s up-beat, inspiring, and dynamic which can’t be said about the entire album. There are a few missed steps along the way, ‘You Should Know’ ends up being a bit forgettable as the vocal is a bit weak. Another mis-step is ‘The Mayfly And The Light’ which is ends up sounding like a dreary piece of folk music. Although the chorus, which is backed by some stunning brass, does try and lift it out of mediocrity – it just can’t save what is a very dull vocal. But, all these songs are quickly forgotten when you hear the fantastically flamboyant ‘Fantasy’, the doughy delights of ‘By Your Side’ and, of course, ‘Baby I’m Yours’.
To say ‘By Your Side’ is a mixed-bag is an understatement. In places it rises above the hype and is geniuinely stunning, but in other places it can be a bit lumbering and just not that exciting. You can’t help but think that Ed Rec and Breakbot might have got the running order wrong; it seems to lack a bit of coherence, which is probably due to the number of guest vocalists and was always going to be difficult juggling act. Ultimately for debut album is a far from perfect, and it dies a bit of a slow death towards the end with ‘Why’ & ‘A Mile Away’, but compared to the usual EDM bass-driven drivel, in places, it’s a technicolour breath of fresh air.
HBF Rating 3.5/5