Braids - Native Speaker (Kanine)

Just how do you define “dream pop”, a sudden title that’s been stapled to the sound of Montreal’s Braids?

Released Apr 14th, 2011 via Kanine Records / By Alex Yau
Braids - Native Speaker (Kanine) At the same time, it’s quite an abstract and loose term really, lest we forget the dreamy escapism that surfaced with Animal Collective. It’s like slapping the title of poetic, working class genius on Pete Doherty’s forehead, lest we forget the Byronistic qualities of a certain Stephen Patrick Morrissey. In a way, Braid’s formation is very much that of a fantasy world. Formed over a cafeteria conversation over a blueberry muffin just before garage rehearsals, the story of Braid’s feels like it should be Wayne’s World directed by John Hughes. If Braid’s were an ice cream flavour, they’d be rainbow ripple.

Spanning at seven tracks, Native Speaker is quite a short record but isn’t that what dreams are really? The moments where you escape into a world unlike no other, gazing upon the wonders that befall your eyes, leaving you as breathless as the breathtaking scenery that’s presented to you. But then, it’s all interrupted as you’re throttled back into reality to a WTF!? moment. Ok, there maybe a slight exaggeration there but Braids do enter that realm, albeit not so mawkishly. In this sense, Native Speaker is a panoramic waterfall of delicately weaved layers which at times, cascades into explosive grandeur and at others, soothes in a peaceful slumber.

‘Lemonade’ bubbles out into a multi-layered angelic atmosphere, hardly escaping it’s floating pace that sets a limbo like the time Leo Di’Caprio sat in a van, or the time Leo Di’Caprio sat on a plane, or the time Leo Di’Caprio stayed in a hotel…you get the idea. There’s a childlike hush as Raphaelle Standell-Preston fantasises: “Have you fought all the dragons yet? They’re there sleeping in my backyard.”

And with that question, our knight in shining armour rides off to a triumphant plethora of stabbing synths and swooping drops (‘Plath Heart’), an utterly gorgeous lullaby, comforting through the echoing percussions and mellow keys (‘Native Speaker’, A bit like Bono comforting Kria Brekkan) before being disturbed by the most conventional of bleeping guitars and idiosyncratic vocal cries (‘Same Mum’).

In fact, the main strength of Braid’s lies in their ability to hardly do anything at all, kind of like Bob Geldof’s ‘I Don’t Like Monday’s’ success but not so shitty. ‘Lammicken’ is an enveloping industrial loop, slightly malignant in tone, where the mechanical churns hint at development, only to be delayed by the banshee like echoes, before flying off to finish with ‘Little Hand,’ a shine of Funeral-esque optimism that blips and dots in a sweep of pure realisation. Here’s proof that you don’t really have to move to reach truly wonderful new heights.