Best Breakfast tackles pandemic anxiety in ‘Panacea’

The third studio album from Brooklyn based rock band Best Breakfast.

The Syndicate

The third studio album from Brooklyn based rock band Best Breakfast.

While dealing with isolation and global anxiety from the COVID-19 pandemic, Brooklyn-based indie band Best Breakfast was formed. The band released its third album “Panacea” on Nov. 19.

Originally entitled “DRIVE BOPS,” the album was recorded in the band’s home studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The word “panacea” refers to a cure-all to disease, evil or difficulties. These themes are tackled over the course of nine tracks and expressed through the band’s dynamic. 

Frontman Ben Majest describes the group as “adversarial but functional” due to their differing personalities. Each member cites a diverse list of influences and sounds that fight their way into the studio. Despite conflicting influences, Best Breakfast draws its biggest inspirations from Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and Arcade Fire. Best Breakfast has ultimately chosen to describe itself as “indie-rock-pop-folk, in that order.”

The frictional aspects of the band’s dynamic apply to the writing process rather than the finished product. Guitarist Chris Parker works alongside Majest to develop songs to their full potential. 

“He’ll offer chords or substitutions or tell me where I need to flesh out a part. It’s very collaborative,” Majest said. “I couldn’t do it without them.”

“Panacea” is a product of pandemic anxieties at its core. This album was made to be a heart worn on listeners’ sleeves. The opening track “Haircut” is a titular reference to COVID-19 quarantine haircuts, but themes of insecurity and uncertainty are what give this track substance. Majest’s tentative voice over crisp and rythmic guitars are at odds with the song’s upbeat tempo.

There’s a heavy focus on interpersonal relationships in this album. The latest single, “Follow Me Home,” is a melancholic collage depicting Majest’s memories of being young and reckless while trying to establish a safe romance with someone. The guitar on this track takes a back seat to feature the slow but heavy snares that pound through.

“Follow Me Home” is an outlier among faster-paced tracks such as “Picking Up.”

The album’s closing track, “Never Been Away,” features Majest’s eclectic vocals crying for self-acceptance. The guitars and bass on the closer are front and center. They’re defiant against the drums that anxiously tap away at the album’s final minutes. 

“’I know someone’s looking at me strange,’ is my favorite lyric,” Majest said. “In moments it’s a battle cry. It’s defiant. At other points in the song, it’s pulled back. It highlights that we’ve accepted that not everybody’s going to accept us, and that’s okay.” 

“Panacea” is now available through all digital platforms. The unreleased B-side “Princess Di” will have a limited release on vinyl, CD and cassette. Best Breakfast plans to announce northeast tour dates for spring 2022.

Michaela Harris can be reached at [email protected] and @MichaelaRH21 on Twitter.