“In Kind” is one of those tracks that doesn't leave you alone. You hum it, sing it in a hopeless falsetto, you play around with the synths—rearranging the composition in your head until you need to pop your headphones in once again and let it slide around inside of you in its original form. Falling into the layers of vocals, green rolling hills and women going undercover to become valiant knights, that are spread lusciously over looped synths and playful instrumentation.
Braids' LP release comes hot off the scruffy heels of their June EP release—and thankfully both of the EPs title tracks, “In Kind” and “Amends”, make the cut onto Flourish//Perish.
Raphaelle Standell-Preston brings out more of herself and her band mates in this release. Their first release, Native Speaker, was no small thing to follow. Critically acclaimed, Polaris short listed and often written about, Braids changed course with the making of their second LP release.
Recorded after touring for over a year, and away from the hype of their Polaris short-listed debut, Native Speaker, the frantic energy seems to be channelled in Flourish//Perish. Pride filled desperation—that of reaching out into a world that holds endless possibilities and endless disappointments. All the nuances inherently woven throughout the album: quiet spaces being interrupted with glitchy atmospheric enticements and sure footed notes morphing into fragile whispers.
There are many artists that try and find that balance between fragility and power, between passion and truly moving quiet spaces. Braids nail it here on Flourish//Perish. It allows for a frantic need—the energy of Montreal all while respecting the hush of off beat neighbourhoods. It very accurately reflects the mood of the city it was created it, the city Braids calls home. Each track a character as unique as the diversity found between the Montreal boroughs, but still the common thread of Braids and their influences are woven throughout. Standell-Preston's vocals are reminiscent of bygone eras, but the layers of synth and the arrangements that play with layers of sound are so clearly rooted in the present—maybe even the to-be. Long form tracks explore differences in tune and arrangement, while shorter tracks lay lyrical vulnerability bare.
They fit in well within Flemish Eye, a record company some could (and do) say made Calgary's musical mountaintop Chad VanGaalen, that serves to promote and showcase interesting work coming out of western Canada. The creative and diverse work explicit within Flourish//Perish betrays no nervousness and seemingly no desire to create music for what fans and music snobs alike expect. Like Native Speaker there is a strong sense of rejection—in the best way possible. Not allowing influence to form the sound, just to, well, influence it. Braids plays music on this LP like you would expect in a live setting, or a basement jam session, or after a bottle of red wine and maybe some other creative influences.
Flourish//Perish is really very very good. It is interesting, it is intuitive, it is emotional, it is intelligent and it is sound that is reminiscent of intangible favourite moments. It is out on Flemish Eye today and you should probably buy it before it gets blogged about so often you won't want to.
They're on tour soon—heading to places you may want to visit anyway.