Esser – Braveface (Transgressive) 24/04/09

May 18, 2009 by  

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Ben Esser, formerly drummer with Ladyfuzz, has been reincarnated as everybody’s favourite coiffured songster. Braveface has been hotly anticipated since he popped up last year with the maddeningly catchy single ‘I Love You’.

The good news is that fans of his previous releases will not be disappointed. From the first chords of confrontational opener ‘Leaving Town’ to the closing notes of the downbeat and spacey ‘Stop Dancing’, Braveface is an album that is slick with creativity and style.

Title track “Braveface” is possibly one of the weaker moments of the album. Here, Esser’s borrowing of Damon Alburn’s vocal style is most obvious and blatant. But that is really beside the point. Esser’s style is one of the most distinctive to be heard at the moment, and even here his music is catchy, flowing and crisp.

‘Bones’ is very much as the title suggests. Stripped down of all the extra bells and whistles, this little number carries more emotion than some may expect. As a lament over a doomed relationship, Esser expertly weighs a more sombre tone with the bouncy beats that we expect of him.

‘Satisfied’ throws another twist, as it is based around a vaguely ballroom-sounding piano. “I beg you not to be a fool my boy, you’ll be her slave until you die” This kind of morose wordplay is unexpected but welcome, highlighting as it does the range of emotion ably conveyed within.

‘Work It Out’ is perhaps a little repetitive, and the relentless electronic beeps and whistles conjure to mind and image of Esser, sitting in front of his computer and pressing buttons at random while deciding on a new hairstyle. This may be a little unfair, as elsewhere an ambitious level of control is on show.

‘Real Life’ is worth mentioning as another example of his range. “I hope the afterworld is easy, I hope it’s coming soon” says the Essex boy in one particularly catching line. There is an impressive maturity to the music, even as it pillages a Blur-esque fading chorus.

All in all, Braveface is a very assured debut from a young artist with plenty of famous friends. Who knows how far Esser can go? From these 35 mins, the answer is probably right to the top.

By Liam Clune

[rating:4]


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