Breakbot - By Your Side

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Get ready to dance, and smile; or, more likely, dance while smiling. After teasing fans for two years with unforgettable releases on French favourite Ed Banger Records, Breakbot has finally released his debut LP By Your Side, and it’s a feel-good arrival just in time for summer.

Lovers of nu-disco, funk and soul will connect with what Paris-based Thibaut Berland has created; By Your Side is a collection of well-written, slow-burn love songs. Ballads and more up-tempo piano-laden numbers meld together effortlessly, all benefiting from the Frenchman’s love of bumpy basslines, beautiful melodies and heartfelt vocals. It’s also an album that will have you feeling like you’re back in the 1970s and 80s in many regards, too, for Berland’s love of disco shines through on almost every track, albeit a love tempered by a healthy dose of contemporary electronica.

I first came across Breakbot via PNAU in 2009; the Australian lads had enlisted the bearded Frenchman to remix Baby, and the way he was able to take an already great song to another level had me searching down previous remix work he’d completed for Sneaky Sound System, Justice, Digitalism and Metronomy.

All work was quality, and undeniably French in a similar vein to Sebastien Tellier, but 2010’s single Baby I’m Yours, his first single on Ed Banger, saw Breakbot emerge from the shadows of other French producers to fashion a sound, and feeling, all his own. Featuring vocals by Irfane, Baby I’m Yours was a bona fide underground hit, and saw the Frenchman’s profile skyrocket. The rest, as they say, is history, and fans have been waiting for this debut album since.

It’s worth the wait. The album opener, Break of Dawn, sets the scene, it being an instrumental that introduces those bass lines and soaring strings for the uninitiated. Recent single Fantasy follows, and this is aimed squarely at the dancefloor; Ruckazoid’s Michael Jackson-ish (big call I know, but listen to it) vocals are infectious. A Mile Away, meanwhile, had me thinking of early Fleetwood Mac and even the Bee Gees, with its beautiful keys, Irfane’s layered vocals and well-placed guitar riffs.

Programme, with its electric guitar and accompanied piano, demonstrates Breakbot’s versatility, while The Mayfly and the Light is a slower, percussive number. One Out Of Two and You Should Know are both standouts, laid-back love songs that balance sensuality with an undeniably French groove. Intersection, meanwhile, is at once melancholic and hopeful, and a great closer to what is an absolutely fantastic album.

Australian fans will have their chance to check out Breakbot’s much-hyped live show given he’s just been announced as part of the Summafieldayze and Summadayze lineups; we can only hope for word of a few sideshows to follow. Until then, however, stay satisfied with this brilliant release, which you can stream right here on ITM.

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