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Braids New Album
Native Speaker

Reviewed by Elizabeth Murphy






I can’t begin to explain all the places BRAIDS’ new album Native Speaker will take you. I can, however, tell you that it won’t have boredom scratching at your eardrums, or leave you eager to press “skip” on your stereo.

Before getting into the details of the most memorable tracks on this album, it is interesting to note that the Braids are comprised of four members from Canada. And while Raphaelle Standell-Preston acts as the lead vocalist in the group, the other members contribute in the vocal department, as well as play an instrument: Taylor Smith plays bass, guitar, and drums, Katie Lee plays the keyboard, Austin Tufts strums the drums, and Raphaella plays guitar.

The album’s first track, “Lemonade,” begins by sounding like an orchestra ensemble. This track is a harmonious blend of irrigate sounds. It is complimented with Raphaelle’s supple, yet commanding voice, and intermingled with the scatters of voices belonging to the groups’ other members. This track trickles in -literally- and meanders its way down into an ear-euphoric pleasure pond (if a phrase such as this one does exist), and takes the listener hostage. The ransom? Forty-four minutes of your time. But trust me, you won’t mind being held captive; by the time the chorus comes in, you’re swept up in a swirl of soft, sporadic, fast-paced, breathing sounds that spit out between the lyrics of the chorus, “What I, and what I found/ Is that we, are just sleeping around.”

What’s appealing about this track, and many of the other tracks on this album, is that though it is complimented by dreamy voices and a mesh of mellow sounding tunes, it is also complicated by the very lyrics that help make this a interesting song. For instance, Raphaelle’s voice is eased out with a calmness that can pacify the most rambunctious child to sleep. However, there’s a shatter in the tranquility this track creates when she bellows, “Have you fucked all the stray kids yet?” Sometime later, as I pointed out earlier, the chorus chants, “What I, and what I found/ Is that we, are just sleeping around.” The juxtaposition of the serene mixture of melodies, and a soft voice singing sexually suggestive content, is quite intriguing. In fact, this combination makes the song more appealing.

Another track I must mention is “Glass Deers.” This song has an angelic beginning, and much like “Lemonade,” has the unique combination of innocent melodies, and a delicate voice with a sprinkle of vulgar language, “Now look at me my deers/ Oh, I’m fucked-up…”

All of the tracks on “Native Speaker” functions like the strands in a section of a braid: collectively gathered, and then tightly woven with its other sections to create an intricate and admirable piece of work. Hence, forming what the name of their group suggests- a braid.

BRAIDS took their time with this album. They make it clear that they do not force the tracks to fit within the conformities of what is deemed “typical length” for album songs, for each song falls no shorter than four minutes long. The tracks on this album take their time roaming the avant-garde field of unmowed territory. And to all trespassers: enter without caution, but with open minds.


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