Braids explores texture pop with 'Native Speaker': Noteworthy Releases

Posted by Kara Clark

The Montreal-based four-member band, Braids, released their debut album, "Native Speaker," on Jan. 18. Both sonically compelling and potent, Native Speaker marks the start of Braids' career, one that can only be described as full of promise.

The album has a specific consistency, one that they have aptly titled "texture pop."

"Native Speaker" is a kaleidoscope of delay, reverb and loops. The title track and instrumental piece, "Little Hand" is layered and atmospheric, evoking images of lush, vibrant landscapes.

Still, this album should not be confused with psychedelic hippie jams; "Native Speaker" is surprisingly grounded, a feature that can be accredited to the band's pop sensibility.

Although the album's shortest song clocks in at four minutes and 30 seconds, the music retains drive and technique. "Lemonade" and "Plath Heart" oscillate with purpose, and are just as conducive to active listening as they may be to simply zoning out.

Lead singer Raphie Standell-Preston's voice is particularly captivating and her protean voice delivers on each track.

"Native Speaker" draws out many shades of Standell-Preston's voice; "Glass Deers" brings out her shrill cries and whispered lyrics, while "Same Mum" extracts sharp inflections and overall audacity.

Drummer Austin Tufts also adds another level of interest to the band's sound; his unconventional percussion is aurally captivating.

Despite its alluring sound, "Native Speaker's" fledgling reputation is not perfect; premature criticisms of the album have already begun to develop.

Some opinionated listeners expressed qualms, pointing out the band's similarity to Animal Collective. The comparison is by no means unfounded: tracks on "Native Speaker" are brazenly reminiscent of Animal Collective's "Feels."

However, "Native Speaker" possesses a depth, texture and range that "Feels" ultimately lacks. Braids simply takes the sound Animal Collective pioneered and further develops and explores it.

Liking bands with similar sounds is allowed: stubborn listeners should eliminate their so-called loyalties and get this album.

Kara Clark is a sophomore English major who hopes to find a job after college.

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