Breathers, Thick Paint, Tommy Marx

Thu, Feb 02, 2023

Breathers, Thick Paint, Tommy Marx


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Breathers challenge perceptions of synth-pop on their new album Designed to Break. Each song is a refreshingly honest dive into the modern human psyche balanced with vibrant synth lines that capture the imagination and drip like dew into our parched subconscious. Despite the pop moniker, Breathers defy categorization, drawing inspiration from the Sophisti-pop movement and the cryptic poetry of Steely Dan. Even the album title is multi-faceted, referencing both the analog gear that Breathers use to craft their sound and the disposable nature of modern technology.

Over the past few years, Breathers have laid the groundwork for Designed to Break with a series of insightful tracks featuring T. Lee Gunselman and Jake Thomson on synths and vocals, with Mike Netland providing live drums and sequencing. The result is a danceable mix of organic and synthetic sounds that warp traditional song structures into something subversive yet enticing. Throughout this album, lead singer and lyricist Gunselman offers thoughtful observations on isolation and anxiety, focusing on the corresponding weaknesses and strengths of the human spirit, and the importance of listening to oneself apart from the cacophony of an increasingly commercialized world. Each topic is couched in a comforting sensitivity which plays off the spacious chords and delicate melodies of Designed to Break.

Both sunny and cerebral, there’s an intangible generosity in the way Gunselman expounds on society and culture while the band weave jazz-influenced chords into Mediterranean hues. On Designed to Break, Breathers have jettisoned everything that doesn't shimmer and fused what remains into a rejuvenating cosmic polyphony. Never has a synth record felt so intrinsically human. Designed to Break is out 9/12 on LP/Digital via Irrelevant Music.