Not much is known about Ben Esser, other than he's from Chelmsford, Essex, was the drummer in little-known London post-punk trio Ladyfuzz (who split in 2007, after releasing one album on the Transgressive label), and has a quiff that would put most Morrissey fans to shame. He's been ticking the boxes of a wide-ranging and varied section of the population with his cheery electropop tunes over the past few weeks, but the real litmus test is whether a full-length debut is as enduring as a couple of radio-friendly pop songs.
For a record cut without the glamour and technology of a professional studio, 'Braveface' is undoubtedly an accomplishment. While Esser shuns the lack of hi-tech gadgets, however, he also lacks a truly original sound that would separate him from the throng of bedroom beatmasters currently flooding the market.
All too often, these songs embody either the streetwise swagger of Mike Skinner (the suave-yet-skuzzy jitter of the likeable 'Headlock') or cheeky-chappy guitar bands like The Libertines ('Leaving Town'), which means that finding Esser's own personality is more difficult than it really should be. There's a lot to like here - especially 'Work It Out', which sounds like being stuck inside an imaginary arcade game called FunkQuest, and 'Stop Dancing', which closes the short album in a flurry of off-kilter, Kanye West-esque gloom. But is there anything to love? The truth is that 'Braveface' is indubitably listenable, but you'd do just as well to get a more satisfying pop fix elsewhere.