click here for more
Album Review
Native Speaker

Native Speaker
by Braids

Kanine Records/SPUNK

Review Date
24th January
Reviewed by
Courtney Sanders

There are things that happen in life be they big or small, that you don’t fully appreciate while they’re occurring only understand their inherent and long-lasting impact after-the-fact. With music, it’s often an album that you clean to, work to, hey, maybe even sleep to; it’s not immediately engrossing yet you find yourself returning to it every time you undertake said chore, and singing it in your head in-between.

Native Speaker, the debut album from Montreal-based band Braids, is one such record. Which, rather than being to its detriment (as such a description might imply) the eight tracks of Canadian dream-pop wash over you immediately, and through you for hours following. A lot of it is to do with structure, of both the band and the tracks. Traditional in format for an alternative band – drums, bass, guitar, keyboard, vocals – Braids have effortlessly distilled each instrumental part down to it’s core which is not only an attribute that belies the age of this band (together for just four years, forming at 18 years old) but one that imbues the album with finite melodies that utilize the boundaries of each individual instrument to create a unique whole. Furthermore each member slowly but surely brings their part to the table throughout each track, and together Braids create a pool of lilting, light fingered melodies underpinned by organic and minimal percussion. Take lead single ‘Lemonade’ for instance. A sprightly loop and tribal drum beat, as if pacing themselves, slowly gather momentum until vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston enters the fold, and it’s game on. Kate Bush-like in her delivery and one of the poignant features of Braids, Preston’s off kilter, idiosyncratic lyrics cajole the rest of the band, harmonizing vocals included, to a cacophonous climax that is hyperactive in its delivery yet soothing and downright captivating in its aftermath.

The water references rife through this review (and in the descriptions of the band online) are an apt summation of Braids: a band for whom a quick dip leaves you with a satisfying amount of water reverberating around in your ears, regardless of whether you knew it was going in or not.


see more