By Zac Richardson, Third Year Philosophy
On her second outing, Bristol’s Fenne Lily pushes her lyrical knack to ambitious heights, though the potential for brilliance is ultimately undercut by subpar production.
Breach is the second LP from Bristol based singer-songwriter, Fenne Lily. Nearly every track on the album has her taking a whispered deep dive into her childhood, self image, and toxic relationships over lo-fi acoustic guitar and the occasional fuzzy indie rock backing.
Largely written while isolating for a month in a rented room in Berlin, just before Covid hit, Breach has all of the suffocating details of introspection that comes with such isolation, culminating in an album that feels strangely apt for our present time.
Naturally, this is the kind of record that leans heavily on lyrical storytelling: ‘I gave up smoking when I was coughing up blood/And when I felt better again I took it straight back up.’
That’s the first line from the album’s closer, ‘Laundry and Jetlag,’ one of the record’s standout tracks. Breach is full of cutting one liners like this, that showcase some of the traps we all fall into again and again: toxic partners, self deception, and doubt.
Breach is full of cutting one liners that showcase some of the traps we all fall into again and again
Songs like ‘I Used to Hate My Body Now I Just Hate You’ and ‘Alapathy’ are chock-full of these and are some of the best parts of the album. Much like with projects from Sufjan Stevens, Julien Baker, or Nick Drake, you feel like you’ve gotten a window into Lily's head by the end of the album.
While this works well the majority of the time, there are a few tracks where it seems Fenne Lily’s song writing alone isn't quite able to carry the momentum. While there are some truly great moments across the tight 38 minute runtime, a boxy lo-fi sound and some occasionally underdeveloped instrumentals prevent the album from possessing quite the punch it should have.
The production on Breach is flawed. Tracks which features a full band wind up sounding oddly hollow. Once again, this puts a lot of the focus on Lily's song writing to carry the album, but consistently low key, whisper thin delivery sometimes makes it difficult to make out just what she is singing about.
A track like ‘Elliot’ is a clear example of this: though featuring light strings, their lack of body makes them feel like an afterthought, rather than a whole new layer they could have potentially added to the track.
The production puts a lot of the focus on Lily's song writing to carry the album
Some of the shorter songs on the album feel underwhelming, in particular the 1:18 long ‘Blood Moon’ which feels as though it has a lot of potential, drawing you in, before ultimately failing to give itself time to get off the ground properly, ending up feeling somewhat unfinished.
That being said, the record is full of sharp, personal indie singer-songwriter tracks. Given that many of us are spending a whole lot more time in isolation than we may do in normal times, there’s a lot to be enjoyed from the shut-in solipsism of Breach.
Though the record takes a few listens to grow on you, with production that tragically renders it good rather than great, it is one of the best indie-folk projects to be released this year.
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Have you listened to Breach yet? If so, what do you make of it?