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
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.