Breathe Panel create music lost in time and caught in transit. From first single ‘On My Way’ to their self-titled debut, their wistful shoegaze seems wrapped in a comforting blanket while still spritely elsewhere. The Brighton 4-piece work at their best in such contradictions, pairing their musical urgency with sleepy nostalgia. Naturally, their debut album soundtracks sunrise and sunset simultaneously – motorik rhythms leave a sense of movement, drifting slide guitar has a sunny disposition and the vocals are endlessly yearning. Be it dusk or dawn, the album exists in a twilight haze.
Opener ‘Carmine’ is an intense sprint, each member attempting to reach the end before the others, though the band masterfully maintain control. The track introduces the recurring lyrical themes of colour, vulnerability and an intense ache for something which intertwine with the refracted guitar riffs and shape its lasting impression. The ache is perhaps the most salient of the three; simmering throughout the album, it surfaces again on slower second track ‘Hue’’s refrain of ‘this is not enough’. While such an ache could dampen proceedings, the group’s soaring melodies and naive optimism takes it into the clouds, again finding a cloudless horizon. Less shoegaze, more skygaze.
After the pace of earlier tracks, ‘Myself’ takes a moment for the band to relax over a brilliant one-and-a-half minute breather. The mechanically crafted marvel comes just before the still mighty ‘On My Way’ and highlights the strength of the tracklist, crafting an ebb-and-flow narrative which parallels the album’s allusions to nature. ‘Through Leaves’ is another interlude which goes beyond its remit and what could have been a throwaway filler for any other band becomes a Tortoise-inspired groove with hints of synth pointing to a future direction.
‘Oglala’ is a slow-burning triumph in the vein of the War on Drugs, crammed into under three minutes; ‘Leading Up To It’ is a hypnotic, spiralling ballad with soft vocals spinning off into gorgeous soundscapes.
Breathe Panel undulates between buoyant and jagged guitar riffs, pounding rhythms and vibrant melodies, and honest, sun-bleached softer moment – it toys with melancholy but the quartet remain staunchly optimistic. It’s a majestic debut from the band, drenched in nostalgia and soaking in a comforting past. However, as with everything they do, they’re decidedly stepping into a brighter future.
BREATHE PANEL BY BREATHE PANEL IS OUT NOW VIA FATCAT.