The first listen of Braids’ debut, Native Speaker, reveals song structures that rock and roll like a wayward offshore buoy, organically swaying with the ebb and flow in deep sea isolation. It is the rhythm, the resilient to-and-fro, that hypnotizes, but it is singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s sensual range that pulls you in.
Formed by four Canadians during their senior year in high school, Braids relocated to Montreal where they gave birth to the organic, sprawling compositions that comprise Native Speaker. Often clocking in at six-plus minutes (and occasionally hitting the eight-minute mark), the songs emerge from placid calm, boasting a lift and sway from swells of texture and a tribal element in the robust, albeit spare, drumming. “Lemonade” takes form from a running stream before oscillating guitar and keys emerge, and Standell-Preston’s spacious tone – matched with her oft-smutty lyrical turns – delivers. “Plath Heart” illustrates the precision of the group with syncopated interplay and flirtatious flow. “Lammickaen,” at only four-and-a-half minutes, is a brooding for the singer, and she stands firmly upon pulsing bass to deliver a vocal performance that is rife with character and range.
Despite the many gems unearthed over the course of Native Speaker’s seven songs, there are pockets of aimlessness that mar the epic title track and emerge unexpectedly, but hang around for days. The band’s freak-rock influences also play large in this collage, balancing some of the most groundbreaking passages with others that feel recycled. But fret not; Braids have a keen vision for experimentation that exceeds their peers. With big ideas and even bigger songs, Native Son marks the welcome stirring of a sleeping pop giant.
Native Speaker is out now on Kanine Records.