Breathless

Three Times and Waving

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    6
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A transitional album for Breathless, Three Times, the group's sophomore full-length effort, features departing drummer Sayer on half the tracks and new recruit Watts on the remainder. The blend of the tracks is more seamless than might be thought, perhaps signaling how well Watts could slot into his new band's sound as well as hinting at similar dark undercurrents in both Breathless and Danielle Dax's music. As a whole, Three Times continues and refines the haunting elegance of the group's earlier work -- each of the bandmembers' individual strengths comes to the fore time and again, all contributing to the greater whole just so. Consider "Is It Good News Today?," the first track on the album featuring Watts. The introduction features soft filigrees from Mundy and similarly intriguing keyboards from Appleton, whose singing also contrasts Neufeld's fluid, slowly building bass. After a pause, Watts brings in the drumming more and more until the whole band takes off on a surging, soaring jam, post-punk epic-scale rock worthy of the name but thanks to Appleton's tender singing never sounding overbearing. There are other full rock-out moments elsewhere on Three Times -- the quick blast of the title track, the nervous tension of "Dizzy Life," which even includes some heavy drum blasts from Sayer -- but plenty of the dark passion of the band as well. If Breathless isn't quite yet ready to record sheer masterpieces like "Moment By Moment," collectively the foursome is getting darn close, as "Into the Fire" and "Waiting on the Wire" demonstrate. The latter in particular reaches grand heights, with one of Appleton's best vocals and some searing guitar work from Mundy leading into another slow, majestic overall crescendo of sound from the band as a whole. It never fully explodes, just reaches an appropriately sudden stop.

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