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FIRST LISTEN: Breathers' 'Low In The Sky'

The third single from 'Designed To Break' shows off a refined sonic palette

Designed To Break
Photo credit: Courtesy Irrelevant Music
BREATHERS: 'Designed To Break'

 

Breathers’ first proper album, Designed To Break, has already yielded two sleeper hits on the local scene with “1-800-PAIN” and “Only Operator.” Both songs have been catching blog headlines over the months leading up to the album’s Sept. 12 release via Irrelevant Music.

“Low In The Sky,” the album’s third single, veers toward an airy side of the group’s new wave and synth pop affinities to show off a refined side of the group’s songwriting. In other words, the group’s synth-based hooks are lite on the percussive side and on the bottom end, giving a nod to the likes of Blancmange, Heaven 17, and late-era Human League — the commercial new wave hits of the mid-’80s. It’s a sound and aesthetic that strives to create a new sense of normality via a sound that’s unshakably synthetic. In the here and now it’s about as radically experimental as a band can get while coloring within the lines of the familiar. It’s disarmingly fertile musical terrain. Working alongside mixer and engineer Sumner Jones (Belle & Sebastian, Animal Collective) the group has created a bouncy and yearning album that’s bound by this ponderous resurrection of one-hit wonder hooks of the Reagan era without a hint of irony. This creates marvelous tension as a side effect.

Vocalists and synth players Lee Gunselman and Jake Thomson, along with percussionist Mike Netland build each song largely around synthesizers. For “Low In the Sky,” cellist Andrew Cleveland and background vocalist Catherine Quesenberry (formerly of Shampoo and Qurious), adding subtly organic layers to this brand of Dystopian pop.

By comparison to the album’s first two singles, “Low In The Sky” is leaner in its textural vibrancy. These are major chord sounds that never stray too far from the aesthetic that’s revealing itself with each new song. Gunselman’s vocals are focused and wistful here, driven by an undercurrent of apprehension hidden beneath warm and comfortable musical color, setting the stage for a peaceful, but uneasy listening experience.

Catch Breathers on the road in September

9/6-9/8 - HOPSCOTCH MUSIC FESTIVAL - Raleigh, NC
9/7 - Irrelevant Music Showcase FREE Hopscotch Day Party | Neptune's - Raleigh, NC
9/10 - Dew Drop Inn - Washington, DC
9/11 - Tundra Dome - Philadelphia, PA
9/12 - Alphaville - Brooklyn, NY
9/13 - Smog - Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
9/14 - The Glove - Brooklyn, NY
9/22 - Album Release Party | 529 - Atlanta, GA



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