Breakbot

By Your Side

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The debut album from Parisian producer Breakbot (aka Thibaut Berland) is so unabashedly sweet that it's no surprise the album cover features him lovingly rendered in milk and white chocolate. However, a can of soda might have been a more accurate choice: By Your Side is full of fizzy, catchy fusions of disco, soft rock, and dance that are pop through and through. The album's two-part title track, which features guest vocals by Pacific!, defines and encompasses the winsome pop and celebratory disco Breakbot does so well as it moves from the first part's sugary harmonies to the sidling basslines and laser synths of part two. Several years in the making, the album collects many of the singles that came before it, including the winning "One Out of Two," which arrived shortly before By Your Side and served as a potent reminder that Breakbot's music was even more ultra-stylized and catchy than some of the other Frenchmen who have been honing the nexus of these sounds since the '90s. Along with Pacific!, Berland invites Ruckazoid and Irfane to give voice to his songs; while the former's sparkling tenor adds some Michael Jackson-like thrills to "Fantasy" and "Why," it's the latter who seems to best embody Berland's mix of romantic glamour and down-to-earth charm. Irfane shines on the '80s-tinged "Baby I'm Yours" and "A Mile Away," and his softer singing style is a perfect fit for the more vulnerable vibe of "The Mayfly and the Light" and "Another Dawn." As joyous as most of By Your Side is, Breakbot's songs are more teasing promises than full-on euphoria; while this restraint is welcome on the album's vocal tracks, at times Berland's instrumental pieces feel a little subdued, as on "Programme," where it seems like another part should be dropping into the track at any moment but never does. Regardless, By Your Side is a charming debut from a producer with an instantly appealing sound.

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