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Review: The Sick-Leaves – Breaking Away

10 January 2012

“Conclusively, The Sick-Leaves’ strongest album…”

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Artist Name: The Sick-Leaves
Album Name: Breaking Away
Year: 2012
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label: OMTD Records

Originally envisioned as an EP, Breaking Away ended up being turned into a full-length release by The Sick-Leaves mastermind, Eksteen Jacobsz. Immediately noticeable is that Eksteen has turned up the energy levels since The Last Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, because Breaking Away reverberates with a far more straight-up, brisk Brit-alt-rock production sound and vibe (it’s a genre that Eksteen, undoubtedly, appreciates and understands).

Much like the trend started in TLDOTSPF, the songs are shorter, punchier and straight to the point. One of the biggest criticisms of earlier TSL releases was that the music often sounded like it was written by a guitarist for guitarists – in other words, it wasn’t easily accessible to the average Joe, who has only ever picked up a guitar to play Guitar Hero. That said, it isn’t like Eksteen is dumbing down his playing or ability, but the riffs and solos on Breaking Away sound less overthought, more natural. And, perhaps more importantly, his songwriting takes precedence over flashy leads. Take ‘I Know Your Name’, which I believe to be the best song on the album, as an example of strong songwriting; the guitar work isn’t quite Satriani or Malmsteen, yet the song still blows you away with its melody, catchiness and superb reply value. The same applies to the hard rocking ‘Fanning the Flames’, which has so much attitude that it seems to strut through your playlist without the guitarist having to abuse every fret.

Eksteen says that Breaking Away is the most enjoyable Sick-Leaves album for him to listen to and also the best representative of the sound he was after. Well, Eksteen, you’re spot-on with that assessment. Conclusively, The Sick-Leaves’ strongest album.

Best Tracks: ‘I Know Your Name’, ‘Fanning the Flames’, and ‘They Died With Their Boots On’

90/100

- Sergio Pereira