Between Happiness and Heartache

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Between Happiness and Heartache Review

by Jack Rabid

Though released during the English dream pop explosion, Breathless, like Pale Saints (who also recorded at London's Blackwing), didn't neatly fit that storied movement. However, they did share the shoegazers' interest in late-'70s/early-'80s esoteric post-punk and the equally subliminal shadings of 4AD Records (Cocteau Twins, etc.). Indeed, brooding-voiced singer Dominic Appleton attracted notice when he was singing for 4AD honcho Ivo Watts-Russell's This Mortal Coil project, and his haunting voice hovers, lightly crooning over Ari Neufeld's bass. Hers is the lead instrument, bubbling dissonant-pretty notes à la Joy Division's Peter Hook and the Cure's Simon Gallup. Guitars, keyboards, and drums add textures that make pure foreboding glisten like a frosty winter scene fraught with peril. Don't miss the landmark opening "I Never Know Where You Are," a classic study in romantic distrust, anguish, and angina. Within seven songs, Appleton is overcome during the closing "Help Me Get Over It," which signifies that his draining fears weren't misplaced. What an era, when English musicians expressed the dark subconscious surfacing into deep emotion. That journey is characterized here by a bittersweet reinterpretation of the Only Ones' "Flowers Die," with John Perry himself reprising his guitar part. Powerful stuff.

blue highlight denotes track pick