Still Waters Breakbot Because/Warner
Breakbot’s 2012 debut album By Your Side showcased a mellow yet bumpy take on nudisco and sunny French electronica, as Thibaut Berland indulged his love of 1970s and 80s funk and synth-pop on singles Baby I’m Yours and Fantasy. On the follow-up, Berland has brought sporadic By Your Side vocalist Irfane into the fold as a full-fledged member, and as a duo Breakbot is better. There’s disco-inspired basslines aplenty on Still Waters, yet there’s a diversity in tempo and flow that makes it a more complex outing than its predecessor.
“This time we really got our hands dirty”, Berland professes. From Get Lost, the New Zealand-inspired first single that parks one leg in the digital and the other in the analog camp, with its moog and other synth flourishes, to the low-slung R & B crunch of 2Good4Me, Breakbot switches from upbeat escapism to soulful love songs with ease.
The appeal of Irfane’s voice grows with each listen and its impact increases when it is paired with that of British vocalist Yasmin on the harmony-rich, emotive Arrested.
Elsewhere, Yasmin shines on the playful, upbeat My Toy amid piercing synths and rolling bass. Sweetest Romance is the undisputed star of Still Waters. A dirty bassline positively dripping in funk is paired with string stabs and Irfane’s yearning for “music and dance” to form an infectious groove. There are a few tracks — Man Without Shadow and the eerie synth-led Turning Around, featuring Irfane’s partner Sarah Ydoux — where the boundaries between credible French electronica and cheese are blurred. They’re outnumbered, however, by the quality offerings, such as the piano ballad In Return, which is reminiscent of the best love songs of By Your Side.