Thursday, November 12, 2009


Esser is a band from Essex lead by multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Esser. It's important to stress this because to the casual observer it would seem that this is simply one man's solo project. Esser appears on all the advertising and promotional material, as well as the album cover, all by his lonesome. Perhaps because he's a rather unique chap, with what could most politely be described as an "interesting looking" face, and all at once one of the most ridiculous yet glorious hairstyles I've seen in a while.

With Esser as both the principle songwriter, and lead singer, as well as playing many of the instruments heard on the LP, it's safe to say that Braveface is effectively his creation. And he deserves a ton of credit as well, Braveface is, in a word; amazing.

Sonically it lies somewhere between Electro-Pop and Indie, with the lyrical delivery having a rhythmic progression reminiscent of that found in UK Grime and Hip-Hop. Although there are outliers which deviate from this description littered throughout the album.

It's clear that Esser aimed for catchy accessibility on Braveface, with most of the tracks being loud, punchy three minute pop-gems with scathing and witty observations at the forefront of the songs. Songs like Headlock and Work It Out are perfect examples of the style most of Braveface's numbers entail. Generally dealing with heartbreak and love-loss, but instead of self-pitying introspection and solemn observations, Esser's tracks generally point the finger at what is clearly a long line of self-obsessed users and unfaithful lovers. It's refreshing to hear this approach after so many artists in the same genre tend to use self deprecation or unfulfilled yearning as story-telling techniques in their songs.

It's not all anger and spite however, the previously mentioned Work It Out is a proposition from one party to their better half, to work out their relationship issues and remember why they fell in love in the first place.

There are numerous moments in Braveface where you think to yourself "Wow, that's a great line", and it's definitely one of the best facets of Esser's debut; the songwriting is spot on ninety-five percent of the time. You'll definitely be singing along to many of these songs before long. A great example can be found in the title track:

"So when you wake up in the morning,
And the sunlight hurts your eyes,
Don't want the world to see your demons,
So you keep them locked inside,

And you put on your braveface."

It's tough to single out sterling examples because there are so many to choose from, every track on the album has its own identity and quality to it, Esser set a high benchmark that is easily met across the board.

However I think some of the best moments on Braveface come from those songs that break the mold set by the surrounding mood of the album. Both Bones, and the album closer Stop Dancing, take down the tempo and attempt completely different instrumental styles. Bones reminded me more than once of Bloc Party's style and sound, which impressed me to no end. Stop Dancing also had tinges of A Weekend In The City and Intimacy to it, but comparisons aside, these are both very much still Esser's songs and two of the best on the album. It definitely serves to highlight the strength of Benjamin Esser's versatility when you hear an amalgamation of so many different styles created so well on a debut album.

It's tracks like these that make me very excited for Esser's hopefully long and fruitful music career to come, he's set himself up to basically go anywhere from here, with a varied, yet cohesive selection of songs that never fall flat or disappoint. It is, however, an album in danger of becoming one of those amazing releases nobody heard; as Esser's popularity has been secured in the UK but the band remains relatively unheard of outside of their own country. Do yourself a favour and pick it up if you can, you owe it to yourself to experience and fall in love with Braveface.


I Love You - Esser

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