Braids: Native Speaker
Flemish Eye/Kanine Records (2011)
I didn’t manage to make it through all of my as-yet-unlistened-to Merzbow records during last month’s marathon, but dammit I had a good crack. And after so much noisy disarray I needed something sugary sweet and comforting. Enter, Canadian band Braids and Native Speaker.
Lets get the Animal Collective-isms out of the way right now. Yes, Braids make pop music gone awry like a mash up of the Collective’s Feels and Merriweather Post Pavilion albums. But these young Canucks approach experimentation from the conventional side of the fence, starting with a song and then deconstructing it into something polymorphous and whimsical. On the other hand, Animal Collective mould experimentation into some semblance of a song. Plus, Braids feature a female singer who sounds like a Kate Bush devotee.
Fuck, I’m not doing a very good job of selling this. I think Braids are a band that needs to be experienced to fully understand. The ingredients are familiar but everything sounds different somehow. The way Lemonade fades in with a flock of guitar arpeggios and wonky drums before singer Katie Lee asks, “Have you fucked all the strangers yet?” is both cuddly and confronting. Lemonade waits until the five minute mark before the drums sink into a regular rhythm and the track takes off for a mere twenty seconds, before rinsing itself out in fuzzy guitars and odd percussion.
Native Sounds is for the most part a warm blanket of weird piano effects, delayed guitars, tribal-esque rhythms and layers of ethereal vocals behind Lee’s strong and wide-ranging voice. But every so often these indie ingredients are thrown out the window to make room for moments like the ominous Lammicken, which is slowly consumed by swathes of white noise before its four minutes are up.
Braids aren’t going to give me cavities and I appreciate them for that. With support from the likes of Deerhunter front man Bradford Cox, something tells me that Braids is a name we’ll see bandied about quite a bit more as time goes on.