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Breakbot By Your Side Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

An unashamedly upbeat, hopeful and happy debut from the French DJ/producer.

Ian Roullier 2012

Having built his name in recent years by turning in sterling electronic funk-led remixes for the likes of Justice, Röyksopp, Metronomy and Air, Thibaut Berland now releases his debut album under his Breakbot guise.

Berland wears his influences on his sleeve from the off, with the jaunty keys, funky guitar and 70s-style orchestral string stabs of Break of Dawn providing an effervescently joyful opening.

What follows is just as unashamedly upbeat, hopeful and happy and provides another indication of the Ed Banger label’s broader musical remit, having originally built its name on delightfully manic electro wonkiness. Funk, disco and Discovery-era Daft Punk are clear reference points, but no influence looms larger on Fantasy, You Should Know and Why than that of Michael Jackson.

In LA-based vocalist Ruckazoid, who provides vocals on each of these three tracks, Berland has found a man with a knack of sounding so much like the departed King of Pop that it’s almost spooky. Fantasy oozes with the same smooth disco-influenced soul of Off the Wall-era Jackson while Why, with its irresistible pop hooks and tempo-shifting mood swings, could easily pass as an off-cut from a forgotten Thriller session.

Throughout the album’s 14 tracks, the tone is cheery and fairly cheesy, but forgivably so due to Berland’s talent for producing impeccably crafted, feel-good pop songs.

Only the most cynical of listeners could remain unmoved by the warm glow that emanates from each track as bittersweet tales of love and embryonic relationships are backed by cheerful organ melodies, light bursts of brass and buoyant basslines. The two-part title track displays this perfectly, toying with emotions as it shifts from a piano-led ballad to a shimmering disco floor-filler.

The influences of Jackson, Hall & Oates and 70s US TV-theme tunes are clear, but a contemporary slant is also added by the subtle electronics that feature throughout and touches like the filtered, stuttering samples on Easy Fraction.

For those hankering for the lost summer of 2012, solace could well be found in the rays of musical sunlight that burst out of every hook and melody of By Your Side.

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