Fenne Lily – BREACH

It seems we're only just scratching the surface of what Lily can create.
Label: Dead Oceans
Released: 18th September 2020
Rating: ★★★★

Bristol-based Fenne Lily has already proven her ability to cement a real sense of relatability in each of her tracks, as well as being a certified creator of poignant ballads of heartbreak. Now, she’s coining new terms and creating her own lexicon in second release, ‘BREACH’. A follow-up to her 2018 debut collection of vulnerable tales woven through sweet melodies, ‘BREACH’ shows strength and self-assurance through sturdier vocals that depict an acceptance of being alone – learning to enjoy one’s own company.

Lead single ‘Alapathy’ is a made-up portmanteau combining “apathy” and “allopathic” (Westernized medicine) which highlights Lily’s uncertainty towards treating symptoms and not the root of an issue. Similar to Julia Jacklin’s ‘Pressure to Party’, the tempo of the track matches the pace of dashing thoughts when swept up in an episode of overthinking. While ‘How To Be A Woman Pt.1’ is a sombre start but doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the album – its beautiful, yet short and sweet soundscape is a goosebump-inducing prequel to ‘How To Be Woman Pt.2’, released prior to the full-length. ‘Berlin’ sees Lily document her life pre-isolation, touring Europe and living in Berlin for a month solo. While it takes a slower musical route than ‘Alapathy’, we’re met with a choral crescendo where Lily proclaims “it’s not hard to be alone anymore” on repeat, accompanied by prominent harmonies in later utterings, offering up an affecting epiphany.

Lily has been drip-feeding new music throughout 2020 and ‘Hypochondriac’, a track not included in the LP, but would definitely be welcome, has pace that echoes ‘Alapathy’ and illustrates something we all can be guilty of; building our own narratives that inevitably spur on intrusive thoughts. “These conversations I have with myself,” admits Lily, “only as hard as I make them / these complications I have with my health / only go as far as I take them”. Here again, we see Fenne Lily unafraid to expose her truest thoughts, lending a hand (socially distant hand no less) to those of us who have these anxieties and are continuing the journey to understand and resolve them.

The cherished relatability of Lily’s lyricism continues in ‘BREACH’ and sees the singer-songwriter leaning into a realm of not loneliness, but rather being alone – and more importantly, to be content with it. For some of us, being alone would have been an adjustment thrust upon us during lockdown, so the LP could be a tuneful tonic to a struggle with solitary life. It seems we’re only just scratching the surface of what Lily can create, and as a new signee to Dead Oceans – sitting alongside the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Bright Eyes, troubadours in their own right – Lily is in good company and stead to fill our ears with even more stirring storytelling in years to come.

Charlotte Croft

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