Review: Braids – Native Speaker

Stream – ‘Plath heart’

They must be putting something in the water in Canada.

Braids’ début album Native Speaker stands as another example of a great band to emerge from the collective of Canadian musical talent.

The girl-boy indie group produce avant-garde pop songs with layers of synth, dreamy guitars and crescendoing lyrics from lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston.

But on closer inspection her sweet voice masks a darker meaning to the songs.

In opening track ‘Lemonade’ Standell-Preston unnervingly trills “Have you fucked all the stray kids yet?/ They’re there sleeping in the backyard.”

Best be careful when singing that one out loud to yourself…

Other songs on the album leave the feeling of having an out-of-body experience, such as trippy title-track ‘Native Speaker’.

The surreal sensation of the push-pull keyboarding and Preston’s spiritual chant of “Maybe have you rest inside me” are akin to the sublime state the romantic’s were such a fan of.

The constant motion of the music continues on to stand-out track ‘Plath Heart’, where guitar and harmonies blend together to create a choral climax.

Despite all the different sounds going on the album blends into a beautiful pop-record.

Music journos are comparing them to the likes of Arcade Fire, Animal Collective and Broken Social Scene but I would also liken Preston to Emmy The Great for the frank way she sings about sex and giving birth.

It will be hard to escape the four-piece this summer when they hit the festival circuit and a number of headlining tours in the UK, I suspect we are going to be hearing a lot more from them.

It’s a shame they miss out a stop off at Sheffield or any of our neighbours in Leeds and Manchester though.

The crisp production of ‘Native Speaker’ reflects why the likes of everyone from Pitchfork to Drowned in Sound are listing this record as one of their favourites of 2011 so far.

Words: Alexandra Rucki.

You can read more of Alexandra’s writings at her blog.

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