Braids, Native Speaker

Brace yourself. Native Speaker, the debut from Montreal via Calgary’s Braids is destined to be the first massive indie record of the year. While only seven tracks long, there is a textural depth to the entire record that allows it to become much larger than the sum of its parts.

Beginning with the nearly seven-minute opus that is “Lemonade,” Native Speaker tugs at the listener’s most sensitive aural pleasure spots with the kind of ambient and atmospheric bedroom pop that Canada has long been renowned for. But “Lemonade” is only a warm-up. Before long, “Plath Heart” walks a fine line between symphonic pop and subtle electronic wonders. The sonic language of Native Speaker is so palpable, but two songs in, that those who are not seduced by the record must surely have hearts made of stone.

“Glass Deers” may begin by confusing listeners, but soon the emotive vocals of Raphaelle Standell-Preston take over and paint the kind of picture that would bring grown men to their knees. And while Standell-Preston’s vocals do indeed stand out, they only serve to highlight Braids stringent dexterity that could only come with having spent years practicing obsessively in the garage. “Lammicken” contains layer upon layer of rich, poised hypnotics and album closer “Little Hand” sends listeners off with a deep, resonating yet ultimately charming loop.

There is an underlying romance to Native Speaker that while many records released in the last few years have attempted to communicate, very few have succeeded. But Native Speaker does not communicate the romance between two lovers; instead it speaks to the power that four long-time friends can harness into an epic sonic landscape. What’s more, it personifies the romance music fans share with their headphones when that landscape is felt for the first time.

Joshua Kloke –

[Rating: 4/5]

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