Friday, May 13, 2011

BRAIDS - Native Speaker (2011)

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BRAIDS is one of those bands that's existed on the edge of my awareness for a bit. I know I've heard of them before and yet can't place where or when that might have been. But it was their recent show in the UK with The Antlers that convinced me to give them my full attention. The Canadian quartet is composed of some of the most unassuming youths that I might have ever seen. They don't really look like the type to even want to be in a band, much less able to put out their silky smooth type of music.

Not quite ambient, not quite hard rock BRAIDS' debut Native Speaker is something in between. Minimalistic in approach and arrangements, fizzed with the occasional hizz or fizz of electronics, Native Speaker is an album that revels in its subdued nature. In fact the only thing that really jumps out is the vocals that rise up above the blanket sounds that act as its base. And even then, the vocals are more a part of the action than as a device used to actually attract attention. BRAIDS are a unit, each part important in its own special way, each member treated as equals: Extensively showcasing instrumentals throughout the album.

Native Speaker is as intriguing as a soft-speaker in a crowded room. Capturing your attention by its sheer reluctant to actively demand it. Even with your volume all the way up, it still manages to feel whispery and confessional without the heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics that sort of thing usually entails. It's airy and distant but also intimate and not afraid of being unpretty as evidenced from some surprisingly boisterous parts in "Glass Deers".

Get a taste of BRAIDS with the music video for "Plath Heart":

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