Breathe Panel are a Brighton band through and through. Having formed here at university, they became synonymous with the Brighton live scene having supported the likes of The Big Moon, Honeyblood and Quilt across the city. Excitement built so much from their live showcases and their early singles ‘On My Way’ and ‘Try To See’ that they were then signed by Brighton label Fat Cat Records and, finally, they’ve released their eponymous debut album, Breathe Panel, which more than lives up to the hype the band have created. Touching on shoegaze tendencies, with Nick Green’s luscious vocals at the forefront of every track, it’s an album perfect for the summer.
Something that’s immediately evident about the record is how slick it sounds. Of course, though, it comes as no surprise when you find out who was on production duties. MJ – of Hookworms fame, the production ace behind the likes of Joanna Gruesome, Frankie & The Heartstrings, Tracey Thorn and, more recently, Drahla – lent his hand on the production front, subsequently creating that glowing, immaculate and precise tinge of slacker-rock-meets-shoegaze.
Before heading into the studio with MJ, the band came armed with three key influences: Chris Cohen, Real Estate and Deerhunter. All three are compatible with a similar sound of Americana that Breathe Panel have created here. Yet, at the same time, it captures that laid-back slice of Brighton life incredibly well. It’s free flowing, lackadaisical and ebullient right to its very core. Opening song and lead single, ‘Carmine’, instantly sets the tone with its slow-building guitar line, before delighting with a wavy yet dynamic chorus.
Most impressively, however, is Breathe Panel’s structure. As an album, and especially for a debut record, it flows together effortlessly. With its languid nature it’s a leisurely trip inside the minds of the band, that becomes increasingly more difficult to escape from the further into the record you get. Second track ‘Hue’, after the short burst from ‘Carmine’, sets the album into a graceful tempo that’s only usually seen by the likes of Mac DeMarco. It’s testament to the band that, due to the sublime musicianship and eloquent songwriting, it never becomes tired or weary; it’s always an absolute delight. Finally, album closer ‘The Time, Always’, which comes with a beautiful music video set in Hanoi, Vietnam, is a delightful album closer, featuring fluctuating guitar lines and Green’s heavenly vocals. So much so, it makes you want to give the entire record another spin.
Breathe Panel is a glistening, glowing and sophisticated record that constructs an expansive outlook on life yet with an introspective monologue. Overall, it’s a beautifully warm listen throughout that features everything you could possibly want from a Breathe Panel album. Unlike many Brighton bands, who play a heavier iteration of indie-rock, Breathe Panel have almost perfected a sound and run with it superbly. The best Brighton album of the year? It certainly could be.