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Album Review

A slightly scattershot, but still valuable career overview, Heartburst cherry picks Breathless standouts from throughout the group's life, with a welcome emphasis on rarer and older tracks. This said, five cuts are from the relatively recent From Happiness to Heartache, which might frustrate those already with a copy, but will please the rest lacking it, given that the selection covers the strongest songs from that album. The gentle, liquid passion of "All That Matters Now" and the energy of "I Never Know Where You Are" still sound great, as does Appleton's fantastic voice. The lead cut is something else again, the stand-alone single "Don't Just Disappear," which is the surprising answer to the question, "What would Breathless sound like as a grunge band?" It may have been a bit of bandwagon-jumping to record something so heavy duty in terms of riff crunch, but the dramatic passion at the heart of the band carries the group along well enough. An equally driving but more familiar-sounding effort is the older, also single-only "Always." Appleton's keyboards and Mundy's chiming guitars matching the Ari Neufeld/Martyn Watts rhythm section nicely. The oldest tracks, perhaps not entirely surprisingly, are among the gloomiest and dankest, with "Ageless," taken from the EP of the same title, being especially down. Influences from the Cure and Joy Division hang particularly heavy as a result, though Appleton's singing avoids retracing the vocal similarities in full even as he gets him some high wailing here and there. This said, "Pride" shows the Breathless aesthetic starting to take greater shape on a low-key basis, though over a seven-minute space, while the melancholy of "All My Eye and Betty Martin" is tinged by some interesting keyboard sounds from Appleton, almost like flutes. A good starting point all around for those new to the group.


Formed: 1982 in England

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Obscure even to most fans of dark, moodily romantic U.K. post-punk rock, Breathless deserves kudos both for its persistence and for its enveloping music. Founded in the early '80s, the quartet has maintained almost the same lineup through 2000 and beyond, pursuing its own particular music with both dedication and a willingness to experiment and try new approaches over time. Two of the four band members, keyboardist Dominic Appleton and guitarist Gary Mundy, knew each other from school and had played...
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Heartburst, Breathless
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