Fenne Lily – Breach Album Review

Dead Oceans – 2020

In times of loneliness and isolation, it can be hard to adjust to life in solitude. That’s not the case for Fenne Lily however, she has embraced the feeling of self worth and the ability to enjoy her own company. The Dorset based singer has returned with the follow up to 2018’s On Hold with an album full of personality, punch, heartbreak, anger and carefully placed wit. Although these songs are focused on loneliness they were written at a time when it wasn’t the mainstream cool thing to be. But that’s what makes this album that more poignant, the songs reflect a world separated but also will strike true to anyone who’s ever been separated from their world. “It’s not hard to be alone anymore” she repeats on the harmonious climax of ‘Berlin’.

This album is ripe with heartbreak, almost every song explores some aspect of it,”I thank Tinder for the creation of this record” she said in a recent interview, a series of short love songs, a description that could be used for this album or the dating app. But for Lily the message she leaves have you feeling heartful and hopeful even through the uncertainty that are relationships. Lily’s level of wit and her cynical lyricism come into full fruition on ‘I, Nietzsche’ as she reminisces of a partner who would rather read Nietzsche than interact with her “I’m high on two day sheets, Home is where I brush my teeth, I get sick on second best, You get off to God is dead”. It’s comical and absurd and yet still relatable, but Lily presents at as just a passing joke; a clear aspect of moving on.

The epitome of everything this album explores is perfected on ‘I Used To Hate My Body But Now I Just Hate You’. Through its dreamy guitar melodies, slow burning chord progressions and gorgeous harmonies it sonically brings together the brightest aspects of this album. But the storytelling ability that Lily displays on this track reaches Patti Smith levels as she describes a short lived relationship and the infatuation and longing of the fallout of the other person leaving. Each line rolling into the next one, “I met you in November for a weekend, I loved you by December like a fool, You left me for a friend over the summer, I never had a chance to play it cool”. You can almost see the image of Lily walking down the street as the season changes, passing moments of lost happiness until the realisation that the other person wasn’t all she thought they were. “When I’m lonely I smoke until I know how to sleep, So find me, the bath is running cold but its deep, Finish what we started, in a hotel with a view, I used to hate my body, but now I just hate you”.

Sonically on this album Lily has expanded her palette to feature elements of grunge on ‘Solipsism’ and a more rock-centric sound throughout, whilst still maintaining the levels of vibrant folk intimacy that were found throughout On Hold. There’s a certain warmness to this album whether it be through the way it was recorded or the way it was mixed but every instrument feels punchy, but never overpowering. ‘Birthday’ mixes together every melody the delicate piano lines, crooning violins and Lily’s powerful harmonies to create a huge power ballad of emotions; reaching Phoebe Bridgers levels of grandeur (who recently shared a bath time interview with Fenne). The intimate sound is still found on Breach though showcased on ‘Elliot’ which as the crisp guitar plucks and clanking shells that are so closely recorded it’s almost as if Lily is sat on a stool by the sea inside your head, gently swaying back and forth singing to just you alone. The instrumental rise on the chorus is also one of the most gorgeous harmonic symphony’s on this album, but never goes on for too long allowing the moments that it’s there to feel that much sweeter. Lily’s hushed vocal performance on this album allows the songs to feel that much more personal, it’s not intended to be shouted to the masses, but almost as if she’s telling you these secrets; trusting you with her stories.

One of the greatest aspects of this album is its consistency and flow. There may some moments that aren’t as memorable as others, ‘Someone Else’s Tree’ has a simpler sound and flow than most songs on this album but it stills fits with the narrative that Lily creates. Sewing together the album are the interludial moments of ‘Blood Moon’ and ’98’ the latter of which featuring a home video sample that perfectly ties together the grounded feel of this album. If you’re in need of a voice to guide you through these days of isolation then look no further than Fenne Lily, as she would put it “I’m not afraid to die more so to be alive, I know in this and more I’m not alone”.

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