Breach or breech. The latter, when giving birth to something, it comes arse first. Or the former, to break through an obstacle. There’s nothing that resembles anything to do with the bottom on the opening to this record, unless you are talking about the video for first single ‘Alapathy‘ where Fenne’s naked buttocks make an appearance as she runs away from the camera at its conclusion. But there has been an obstacle or two for Fenne Lily.
This is an exhibition in exquisite pin drop beauty, some pain, and healing.
Like still water on a clear lake, a dead ocean, a drop causes ripples that open up and create a wave of squalling feedback on ‘Alapathy’.
The voice; at once a breath on a breeze, but then brittle cut glass, ready to crack under the weight of knowing and over bearing pressure. ‘Berlin’ is a gentle morning after; headache, sun through the window, head on the pillow, table, cushion, regretting, remembering, wishing. But then as the ending refrain “it’s not hard to be alone anymore” repeats, the squalling feedback of guitars sound like the screaming of her inner monologue.
The blurb says that Fenne wrote this record whilst coming to terms with being happy alone, or at least content. It appears to be wrestling with past relationships on each cut, convincing and cajoling herself to come to a peaceful conclusion.
The paradox between finding meaning without someone but still needing that person. “there’s nothing wrong, with I, Nietzsche” followed by what sounds like “there’s nothing wrong, but I need ya”.
“Nietzsche insists that there are no rules for human life, no absolute values, no certainties on which to rely. If truth can be achieved at all, it can come only from an individual who purposefully disregards everything that is traditionally taken to be ‘important’”. If there is one certainty, it’s that you can’t control the heart and you can’t control another person to always love you.
‘Birthday’ describes vividly a particularly shit anniversaire where she discovers her boyfriend in bed with someone else over perfect melodic couplets and matter of fact vocals that could result in tears at any moment or stoic stiff upper-lip defiance. You will not fucking break me. As opener ‘To be a Woman Part I’ states “fuck falling apart”.
‘Solipsism’ is the theory that only the self is real and that the self cannot be aware of anything else except itself, as brilliantly illustrated in the video treatment for the single where Fenne is captured walking down aisles of Fenne Wines, Breach Bleach and “Twenty and One ‘O’s” breakfast cereal. Aisles of me. Perhaps the most upbeat song on the record however the subject matter is still war weary “Run on empty/at one and twenty”.
With album full stop “Laundry and Jetlag” closing the chapter on a relationship with string swells every second bar as it surges to a finale that feels like a heartbreak every time, coupled with a repeating guitar hook that guides the violins and cellos in. The lump in the throat is somewhat eased by opening line “I gave up smoking when I was coughing up blood/when I felt better I took it straight back up”. But then Fenne’s dark humour is littered throughout this stunning LP. Perhaps the propensity for self-reflection and a small dash of pity has to be sprinkled with a dry wit and sarcasm to take the edge off. However, nothing can take away from this finale’s simplistic beauty.
Her first on a big label, she joins a roster that has produced seminal work. Not least her friend, Phoebe Bridgers this year, and Breach more than matches the universally acclaimed Punisher.
If having a laptop stolen and losing books of lyrics is what it took to create Breach then, whilst the journey was fraught, the destination is sublime.