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Albums of 2012 – 24. Breton – ‘Other People’s Problems’

Some specifics on the London-based Breton: their namesake is the so-called ‘father of surrealism’, they refer to themselves as a ‘multimedia arts collective’, and conduct their DIY approach to music, film, and art in the confines of an abandoned bank vault dubbed BretonLABS. Suffice to say it’s all terribly artsy, but in Other People’s Problems Breton have also managed to create an essential map of British music in 2012 – a tapestry of minimalist beats, instrumental sampling, catchy guitars and electronically treated vocals.

What it lacks in exoticism it makes up for in accessibility, coming off somewhere between the electro-funk of Tom Vek and demos from Total Life Forever-era Foals sessions. The latter comparison arises mainly from vocalist Roman Rappak, whose delivery borders hip-London nonchalance yet often helps create immediate hooks, particularly on single Jostle, which is carried by some rather familiar guitar riffs. However despite its basis in tradition, never has chopped and screwed beats and electronic distortion been so catchy as in Edward The Confessor. This might be pastiche, but it’s pastiche done well.

Breton also had the privilege of working in Sundlaughin, the recording studio owned by the prominent post-rockers Sigur Ros. Whilst their work never reaches the Icelandic band’s creative or emotive highs, the climax of 2 Years is undeniably a highlight, as soaring strings clash over low-end distortion and a thick drum machine beat.

The genre blending of indie-rock and dance is familiar territory, but on this, their debut album, Breton successfully negotiate its rougher edges with one foot firmly placed in the realm of mass consumption – a feat in itself. It doesn’t take a feature on the soundtrack of Waterloo Road to figure that one out, but it certainly helps.

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