Review Summary: Impress yourself
Over two decades later, Braid’s third album bested time and still settles in its place as a frame and canvas for emo bands that followed. The juxtaposed composition of pop-sensibilities and unhinged abrasion, along with wordplay of similar fashion — self-love and self-assertion are quickly replaced with self-loathing and uncertainty — paved the road for younger musicians to travel themselves.
Frame and Canvas
is a masterclass example of pristine musical transitions; Nanna and company skillfully glide from soft and melodic to dissonant but never let either form of themselves stay too long. The unpredictability of tempo changes and endless time signature fluctuations keep your ears perked to find more to love every time you spin it. “Urbana’s Too Dark” begins with a shimmery guitar lead and a bare-bone drum pattern; get about halfway in the track and the instruments end up clashing beautifully, ending up sounding close to a Fugazi song. Just about any track on here will please you, shifting and always fresh, yet accessible and catchy
Now, the one piece of Braid that shoved them above for me resides in Nanna‘s and Broach’s clever wordplay and tying their verses and choruses together. In “Collect from Clark Kent,” Nanna sings “I’m not sure to fly/In fact I’m super stupid tonight,” a song of distance breaking a relationship, the hurt in realizing you’re not Superman and lack confidence in if your words will speak to a love one in impacted ways. Another defining trait lies in their knack to twist lyrics on each other, with “First Day Back” being a prime example: “So frustrated/That something so complicated/Could hang over my head...” and the next verse starting with “So elated/That this soul so understated/Could be making eyes at me...,” putting ideas and themes in a cyclical spin to push and build on each other, forming more powerful lines.
The only downside I have is when they attempt to force more words than necessary to fit their melody scheme, like in “Consolation Prizefighter” when he scrunches in “Windows down the idiots yell/At me, meek on the street/Clueless as usual and unbelievably easily bruisable,” the punchline of the line falls flat despite the clever use of assonance. There’s only a few minor picks I have at the same issue, and they don’t take away as much as the rest of the musicianship gives.
If you’re a fan of emo, you know this record.
If you’re trying to be a fan of emo, know this record.