Breaking a pattern when known for a similar beat or movement is difficult. Sophie Ellis-Bextor has never truly had that trouble. She has shifted her pop-ready brilliance from her debut album into territory that always risks alienating her audience. That is a risk she has conquered time and time again on the likes of Familia to covers of Britpop and 60s classics. Her voice lends itself to everywhere, as it does on Breaking The Circle. Her latest single is a roaring powerhouse, a series of questions pointing toward those who were not expecting her return. Taking aim at the future and looking deep into that new horizon with old pop rumblings is a near-perfect mix.
Ellis-Bextor has frequently found herself as a top indie pop artist but her time away from the forefront has seen new artists fill the space she left behind. Crashing through with this return is as strong as expected. People who wrote tracks as great as Murder on the Dancefloor tend to draw from that pool of similarity. Even then, Breaking The Circle is keen to move on and away from that. It may sound upbeat and built almost entirely on the upbeat rhythm, but it is more than that. There is comfort in this considered and consistent mix, but lyrically, Ellis-Bextor is clear as ever on moving away from her older lyrical placements. These are still dancefloor-ready beats but are as reflective as it gets for a stellar powerhouse of indie pop.
Dance-ready shocks to the system were not as expected as Ellis-Bextor’s finest works let on. This new horizon is half a return to the early years of her work but another half keeps the lyrical surplus and complexity intact and pushing through. Reviving worthy pop numbers is no easy task but Ellis-Bextor makes it worth sifting through the cracks and cracked works, the empty and heartless stock that has since regulated the charts has found a warning shot fired right at it. Breaking The Circle does as promised. It is breaking the circle. Whatever that circle is, whatever resonates with the listener, is the truth. Ellis-Bextor has made an intimate yet broad track, one that finds itself with a surplus of reasons and fears but keeps them open to interpretation.
Not for her sake, but for the sake of a listener. She is here to change her habits yet not her voice. Ellis-Bextor is still as powerful as ever and Breaking The Circle confirms that strength while pushing her up and on to the next level. She has retained a powerful voice and put it to good use on the first fresh single from her upcoming album, HANA. What tone and style that will take is up in the air, but this is a strong indicator. As close Ellis-Bextor has found herself to that riff-ready instrumental pop, one that struck a chord with the public on her first outing way back in 2001. She has broken the circle, but whether that takes her back to her electropop roots or to somewhere new entirely is yet to be seen. What can be seen so far is the obvious. Sophie Ellis-Bextor is back with a bang and is, indeed, breaking the circle.