Fenne Lily’s long-awaited second album, Breach, is finally here, via Dead Oceans. They call this the ‘difficult’ second album for a number of reasons, but Breach comes together with ease. The only great difficulty that you might sense is the effort that Lily went to confront herself in the process, and to write about her preferred topics without cliché or safe ground. You can stream it everywhere now.
it’s here it’s yours — welcome to the world, baby https://t.co/R7KuDBnAW9
— Fenne Lily (@FenneLily) September 18, 2020
Lockdown swirls around Breach. Although, in this instance, it is Lily’s self-enforced, pre-pandemic period of isolation in Berlin that drew an album out of her. Nonetheless, now we all have a sense of how that probably felt.
The album opens with the whispering of ‘To Be a Woman Pt 1.’, which encapsulates the series of expansive themes that Breach flirts with. This is followed by the first two of Breach’s singles, ‘Alapathy’ and ‘Berlin’.
In isolation, ‘Berlin’ was a great single. As the third track of the album it is little less than perfect. At just fifteen lines, you can’t help but be reminded of one of those fragmentary tracks like ‘Wish You Were Here’, where every word is precious. It was composed out of voice notes that Lily managed to recover after a phone crisis during the trip.
Lily lets us all the way into her thought process. Like being inside your own brain, it makes complete sense and no sense at all. ‘I, Nietzsche’ is perhaps the best example of this; it circles around all its own points. By contrast, the latest single, ‘Solipsism’, is a fresh burst of energy – it is certainly one of Breach’s standout moments.
Following ‘Solipsism’ is one of the most memorable tracks on Breach: ‘I Used To Hate My Body But Now I Just Hate You’. The universality of this song translates into lines such as, “I read all of the books you recommended / I listened to your friend’s band all the time.” As the chorus builds for the first time, into the titular sentiment, you feel Lily regaining her autonomy with every word.
This is one of the ways that Lily’s new, cynical, honest voice comes through. It’s a fantastic take on a break-up song – it’s not comfortable or easy or tragic, but rather challenging. It turns heart-ache upside down and inside out to get to its very core: the song is heavy with self-questioning and monotony, but it is relatively free of bigger, existential questions about break-ups. The outro reaches great heights, and the final half line reasserts a note of triumph and control.
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there are 1,271 words on this record but it’s hard to find the right ones to send it into the world with. I’ve been waiting for this day to come for a long time and it feels surreal to say that BREACH is yours now — every side of love and pain reduced down to two. my dad used to call me a tiny warrior and that’s how I feel about this record — I hope it gives you something. it’s given me a lot. there’s no way it would’ve happened without the following people : @slonkslonkslonk @joshuadavidsparks @alichant @brian.deck @hollyshay @rfjaffe @deadoceans @joncoombs @lucydacus @luxtonluxtonluxton @nicoleloucaides and my little orchestra — thank you big time
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Breach starts to wind down here, starting with ’98, a touching audio clip from Lily’s childhood. Situated between ‘I Used To Hate My Body…’ and ‘Someone Elses’ Trees’, it is perfectly placed to reinject a note of nostalgia. Generally, Lily is one of those people who finds their magic in the everyday; toothbrushes, cold baths and laundry all work together to cover much vaster ground.
Many reviews have noted that where Lily was struggling to be alone with herself on her previous album, she has confronted this from every angle. The album comes with a statement from Lily declaring that she no longer needs to “fixate on relationships to make myself feel like I have something to talk about.” A previous press release spoke about Lily was working out the difference between “being alone and being lonely.”
On Instagram, she touchingly described Breach as a “tiny warrior”, something her dad used to say about her. Somewhere between “tiny warrior” and “I used to hate my body” – where “used to” is emphatic – and the fragments of ‘Berlin’ and ‘To Be A Woman Pt. 1’, Lily is excavating as many answers as she is raising questions.