Fenne Lily: BREACH (Dead Oceans) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, October 23rd, 2020  

Fenne Lily


Dead Oceans

Sep 18, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

BREACH, English singer/songwriter Fenne Lily’s sophomore record, and Dead Oceans debut, is a stark isolated reflection on her inner life. Written in voluntary isolation (pre-pandemic), Lily displays her anxieties and scars in an album that turns between breathy and intimate acoustic songs and slurred indie rock passages. She expands her songwriting and her musical palette on BREACH, creating a touching picture of herself as an artist. 

Lead single “Alapathy” sets the stage for this evolution in Lily’s sound. Clattering drums and driving guitar tempos give the song a sense of momentum, mirroring the harrowing anxiety in the lyrics. The lively energy, while new to Lily, works quite well. “Solipsism” similarly slips into a hazy rock sound that contrasts well with Lily’s clarion clear falsetto. While other tracks play closer to the soft-spoken folk of her debut or contemporaries such as Laura Marling, these new paths show a different side of Lily that breaks up the album well. 

Whereas Fenne Lily’s 2018-released debut, On Hold, documented the swirl of emotions following a break-up, BREACH is a far more intimate look into Lily herself. The themes of solitude extend beyond the writing of the record, coloring much of the lyrics as well. Much of the record examines Lily’s process of self-acceptance. She does not ignore her pain but comes to a beautiful acceptance of isolation, chronicled on highlights such as “Berlin.” The track begins as a measured ballad that slowly unfolds into a lush and soaring track. Lily comes to a place of self-actualization on the chorus where she sings, “It’s not hard to be alone anymore.” 

Lily continues to show a gift for lyrical gut-punches as well. “I, Nietzsche” and “I Used to Hate My Body But Now I Just Hate You” both engage with former toxic relationships but focus in on Lily’s personal growth and healing. “I, Nietzsche” uses subtle wordplay to both criticize the subject of the song and wrestle with the longing Lily still feels for them. She sings, “And there’s nothing wrong with I, Nietzsche/I spend my life lying down/And there’s nothing wrong but I need you/I’m looking for a reason to drown.” 

Some tracks do come off as sparse, making them feel too inconsequential. The cloudy opener feels like more of a taste of the album than a well-defined song in its own right. Similarly, the instrumental approach on “Blood Moon” is rather one-dimensional and it lacks a strong melody or lyrical hook to make the song rewarding on repeat listening. 

Still, Lily’s newfound range largely delivers on BREACH, as does her touching and resonant songwriting. Although some moments can feel too sparse, these are largely few and far in between, making for an overall consistent listen. Fenne Lily’s latest record is as thoughtful and emotive as her first, confirming her as a rising star in the realm of singer/songwriters. (www.fenne-lily.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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