‘Still Waters’ Is a Triumph for Breakbot

Photo Credit: Ed Banger Records.
Photo Credit: Ed Banger Records.

There are a few key French artists who revitalize me whenever they release something new. Among them is Breakbot, who just released his new LP, Still Waters — 52 minutes of French House, disco, and boogie cuts that rely on the ghosts of the past without being overly nostalgic.

The basic, killer disco foundation of 2012’s By Your Side is still present, of course, but this time the compositions seem tilted more toward the synthesizer-driven funk and disco of the early to mid-80s.  

By Your Side always reminds me more of the organic work of Barry White or the Bee Gees, whereas this new record trends toward the essences of Prince, The System, or Michael Jackson.

The album begins strongly with “Back For More,” which has enough elements of the first LP to serve as a great transition point between the two albums. Its punchy beat and persistent bass line drive a staccato cascade of stringed and bubbly synths. Irfane’s vocals, replete with his characteristic throaty timbre, and Sarah Ydoux’s equally notable pipes coalesce with all this punch to set the stage for a downright fun record.

“My Toy” is equally upbeat, replete with sunny melodies and an extremely satisfying walking bass. “All It Takes” is a more electro number, with a gritty synth bass. In either case, the mirrorball reflects the shiny goodwill of the room back on the dancers down to shake off a work-week’s worth of karmic grime.

There are some interesting deviations from the 80s synth-disco-funk paradigm. On “2Good4Me,” Breakbot delves in crystalline, minimalist R&B that more or less begs for an Ashanti cameo. “In Return” almost sounds like an outtake from John Lennon’s late-era solo oeuvre.

The record closes with the catchy instrumental title track, which lays on enough 80s synth cheese for each day of the year. I’m hoping that this fromagerie isn’t exhausted, though. Combined with the glitzy grooves and soaring vocals, the cheese is part of Breakbot’s fine art — and I look forward to the project being around a while.

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