Written By: Thomas Connor
Label: Self-Released – Rating:
The first notes of “Emotion,” the titular opening track on Breathe Electric’s new release, elicited an instant memory montage: In the early ‘00s, there was a club in Boston that hosted a weekly 80s dance night. A lax ID policy and an 8pm door ensured that a large number of young, questionably legal guys and girls would don their slimmest jeans and brightest day-glo tights and dance the night away in hormonal bliss (until 11, when the club switched over to a more conventional format).
As a result, this particular memory-set is more than a half-fabrication, but I certainly remember wondering where everyone was stashing their electro-clash gear and makeup.
As it were, it‘s become increasingly apparent that for a certain segment of the population the 80s – particularly Pop, New Wave and House music inspired sensibilities – is becoming the cultural reservoir of choice. The thing I noticed back in the old club, was the shortage of contemporary music to compete for spins with the more classic hits and obligatory remixes of those hits. I mean really, arm dancing and pointing to the sky in tempo with Tainted Love loses some of its kinetic energy after a half dozen goes.
It’s the memory of those hazy drunken nights that “Emotion” took me back to. While initially I’d describe the sound as The Faint with less eyeliner, less sex, and more Auto-Tune; I’ve begun to respect the band’s fearless embrace of accessibility and a finely honed cultural ear (re: the ubiquitous Auto-Tuneing). And there is plenty of neo-pop-sensibility on this album. This aesthetic probably culminates in the middle of the album with “The Best of All,” a song that fluctuates between James Blunt melodrama, anthemic cadences and a few multi-vocal crescendos – a personal favorite. That might sound like faint praise, but Breathe Electric gets the proportions right: almost all the songs have an aggressive edge that belies a vague “I’ve heard this before…” sensation, and keeps at least one foot in Rock and Roll. This is music made for soundtracks and iPod commercials.
That being said, if you’ve just got to cut a rug sometime soon, any of these songs will deliver. I’d hesitate to say that Breathe Electric is going to displace New Order or the Cure (and definitely not Prince or OutKast), at least not with this release, but if they keep it up-tempo you’ll probably hear a lot of this band in the future. Now, where did I put my snap-bracelets and liquid eyeliner?
Like Breathe Electric? Check Out: Zebrahead, The Faint, or take it down a bit with Blonde Redhead.