Kitchens of Distinction's Breathing Fear single collects one track from The Death of Cool and three B-sides, two of them simply amazing instrumentals that suggest the band had an entire other genre mastered. Like every release in the band's discography "Breathing Fear" is stunningly beautiful. The song shimmers and wails peacefully, yet with conviction. It's obviously a Hugh Jones production, as the guitars sound remarkably like keyboards. Frontman Patrick Fitzgerald has never sounded so much like a swooning lover as he does here. Julian Swales' swirling guitar is somewhat restrained, or maybe just a bit buried in the mix, but that's not a problem, because the song jangles as necessary. "Goodbye Voyager" isn't as polished as "Breathing Fear," and it almost sounds like it wasn't completely finished. By any other band's standards, it's a masterpiece, but it's not really one of Kitchens of Distinction's strongest songs. Fitzgerald's moody vocals compete with tension-filled guitars, but the song doesn't ever really pick up steam. The most successful element is a repetitive piano strain. "Skin" and "Air Shifting" are revelations; some fans of the band might be shocked at how compelling these atmospheric instrumentals are. "Skin" sees gentle, acoustic guitars rolling effortlessly over ambient sound effects; the song conveys equal feelings of sadness and happiness and a sense of unease. "Air Shifting" is sweet and gentle, as acoustic guitar and warped sound effects mingle. Since the band didn't receive the commercial acceptance they so deserved, it's particularly shocking to see that they could have easily been expert composers in the realm of film scores. As incredible as Kitchens of Distinction were in their prime, it's still quite surprising to see just how versatile the band was on this single release. With the touching title track, the moodiness of "Goodbye Voyager," and the two instrumental closers, they prove their mastery of atmosphere and emotion with Breathing Fear. Of course, newcomers should first look into the band's full-length albums, with The Death of Cool being a great place to start.
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AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina