Braids
Native Speaker


2.5
average

Review

by Andrew Kaster USER (24 Reviews)
January 17th, 2011 | 99 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Though the foggy breathed soundscapes of "Native Speaker" are quite beautiful, the listening experience isn‘t all that engaging.

Montreal avant-pop quartet Braids’ debut album “Native Speaker” is more or less the aural equivalent of watching clouds. Sometimes vague images will take form, but more often than not, you’re left staring at something light and fluffy and lacking of substance when needed. Mixing organic and synthetic sounds seamlessly, Braids will easily draw comparisons to “Feels” era Animal Collective, albeit, as a less magical incarnation. Where “Feels” had a sort of pulsating and untamed energy, “Native Speaker” enjoys teasing the listener by never allowing its songs to enter full out charges or anthemic stomps. Instead, structure is very loose as the band takes up free reign to explore slow burning psychedelic manipulations. Most of the time they’re struggling to keep their heads above the waves of tribal drumming, twinkling synth, and ambient swells. It’s only through the performance of airy female vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston that they stay afloat.

One moment twee and fairy like, while on the next, powerful and belting, Standell-Preston is simply breathtaking as she digs out trenches of emotional depth akin to that of Icelandic singer Bjork. Accompanied by a ghostly choir of distant harmonies, the vocals on “Native Speaker” easily make for the album’s most memorable passages. The heavily arpeggiated swell of “Lemonade” and the swagger of the pseudo-dance number “Plath Heart” starts the album off beautifully, though beyond these two tracks, patience will be tested. The majority of "Native Speaker” is very sedative, as one is left waiting for the interweaving streams of sound to eventually form into something. While this method does work well enough on the soupy and strung out “Glass Dears”, and the slow caustic build of “Lammicken”, you’ll often find yourself grasping for something more striking in these compositions.

The title track, akin to one big and drawn out yawn, is a perfect example of the painfully lax nature of this album. And while the bubbly “Same Mum” and jazzy instrumental “Little Hand” are enjoyable enough, neither leave much of an impression once the last seconds of the songs run dry. There simply isn’t any prioritizing over which moments are allowed to collect in pensive thought, and which come together consciously into palpable melodies. Like gathering thunder storms, the breezy guitar lines, rolling drum fills, and spacey keyboards eventually all build into a shimmering and thick atmosphere; sometimes too late to make much of a difference.

If Animal Collective’s sense of urgency and free spirited nature of experimentalism proved too jarring for your ears, I incline you to sit back and relax to the radiating and watery tones of Braids. Though the foggy breathed soundscapes of "Native Speaker" are quite beautiful, the listening experience isn‘t all that engaging. Hopefully next time, this group will set goals that are more concise and varied and work towards forging a more unique identity.



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user ratings (119)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Adam Downer STAFF (4)
The only thing to do is love, and so I do....

recommended by reviewer
Animal Collective Feels

Comments:Add a Comment 
kanecooper
January 18th 2011


630 Comments


nice review, haven't checked these guys out yet

Enotron
January 18th 2011


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

people taking my claims

album is awful

SloppyMilkshake
January 18th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Heh, I was planning on this for a couple of days. Been trying to stay on the ball as far as new releases go, and this was a pretty easy one to write for.

tl;dr Animal Collective for people who don't like Animal Collective but want to.

Shrapnel94
January 18th 2011


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haters gonna hate, as usual.

Enotron
January 22nd 2011


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

^or maybe it's a stupid completely derivative album with no merit?

DoubtGin
January 22nd 2011


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Animal Collective

Enotron
January 22nd 2011


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

nah but feels is actually brilliant. if you look at the structures of the tracks and all of the little "idiosyncrasies", it's really just an AC ripoff. and the shit doesn't even sound good.

DoubtGin
January 22nd 2011


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

i'm with you bro

this is a horrible unoriginal version of ac

Enotron
January 22nd 2011


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

word word

Steoandnoodles
January 22nd 2011


2832 Comments


This didn't click with me at all.

It seems the band are following a trend here, not a yearning ambition to make good, original music. :/

AggravatedYeti
January 22nd 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

tbh this has "Yeti" written all over it.
and I'm hearing great things from everyone but, well, Sputnik.

Steoandnoodles
January 22nd 2011


2832 Comments


Yeah, I've heard some solid responses to it. That's why I initially checked it out but no, really came across as 'trend-y' to me.

ECRbubs
January 22nd 2011


687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLsHP94bvXs

kanecooper
January 23rd 2011


630 Comments


this isn't awful but there are parts which tend to be a little grating

AggravatedYeti
January 23rd 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I kind of dig this so fahh,

thebhoy
Emeritus
January 23rd 2011


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah idk it is a little derivative but it's not awful

AggravatedYeti
January 23rd 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

reminds me of the cocteau twins a whole hell of a lot more than animal collective.
but I see the ac in it.

sunny day in glasgow too.

SloppyMilkshake
January 23rd 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, I kind of dig it as well. I mean, it's not bad, and there are some good moments. It's just not all that special.

AggravatedYeti
January 23rd 2011


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

but 2.5?

SloppyMilkshake
January 23rd 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Well, that's average, isn't it? I'm going more by what the score means than the number itself. Overall I wouldn't listen to it all too often, but if it comes on my playlist I certainly wont mind it. Half the album is pretty good, while the other half is just boring, so I suppose it balances out to being average.



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