Review Summary: Relaxing, dynamic, and one of the year's best rock albums so far.
I’ll be perfectly honest with you all – I’m a bit at a loss for how to begin a review for a band like Braid. Not because of their genre, but because I’m mostly unschooled on their past music. I can’t lay claim to knowing the intricacies of the differences between albums and bringing you guys up to date on just how altered the band has become nearly sixteen years after their last LP, because in the 90s my concept of music consisted of little more than church hymns and my dad’s jazz collection. Hell, I hadn’t even heard of Braid until their vocalist Bob Nanna contributed a vocal spot to the latest Say Anything release, so that should give you an idea of the spectrum I deal in. But I don’t really need any of that to inform you that “No Coast” is not only an absolutely fantastic entry in the revival of 90s styled emo that’s currently taking place, but is one of the year’s best rock albums so far.
A lot of emo music forgets to be dynamic amidst all of the weeping guitars and reflections on life, but the title track here has more feeling and curve put into the first couple minutes than most bands manage in more than a few songs, and still manages to build to something insanely catchy after those minutes are up. Most of the albums’ tracks have the same basic qualities – Nanna’s compulsively listenable voice that moves seamlessly from what amounts to pitched talking to crooning, drum beats that stay powerful while remaining relaxing, and guitars that bounce from being introspective to punk and somewhere in between depending on the demands of the moment. Some songs stick out more than others, particularly both ends of the album, but nothing in the middle feels like dead weight.
Most bands reunite after a while. Some of them release new albums, sometimes those albums end up being on par with the rest of their discography. But very rarely does a “reunion album” feel as vital, if not more so, than the rest of the band’s career work. I’m not familiar enough to say for sure, but I’m fairly certain “No Coast” will end up listed as one of those albums. It’s a mature work from a band that’s been around the block a time or two, and it absolutely deserves your full attention.