No Coast

Written by: LF on 01/09/2014 23:28:30

The name of Braid is one that I have come across a gazillion times in my life as a music-fan and it has always had a sort of awe-inspiring ring to it. Now however it has a new relevance to it as well, as the seminal emo band who split in 1999 has finally reunited. Since I was about eight years old when they disbanded, it stands to reason that I was never into this band when they were active, so while 2014 might seem like a late time to get on the bandwagon, I am happy to report that this release has definitely, finally made me do just that. Doing some quick math, most of you can probably figure that this is the first album in about fifteen years by the band, and it follows a split EP with Balance and Composure that was released last year. After such a long time it is to be expected that Braid have made some changes to their sound, so let me get right on detailing the most prominent elements.

Rather than sounding exactly like their old selves, this is an album where Braid put a lot of weight on remarkable vocal melodies, delicate and refreshing drumming, and tightly knit, layered guitar riffs. Furthermore, they seem to put a lot of attention into the composing of songs, as each and every section feels relevant for the development of each song, and no part of the album makes me feel like it's just stalling. The title track "No Coast" in itself could fill an entire paragraph in this review for all the little things it includes that excite me. The most prominent of these is the way vocalist and guitarist Bob Nanna varies the timing of the lyrics of the verses on top of a neatly played, steadfast drum pattern, which has become outright addictive for me to listen to after I first fixed in on it. One of the things that this album really speaks to in me, is my weak spot for intricate use of rhythmic qualities.

The energy conservation in every one of the first five songs of the album is intoxicating as well if you let yourself be led by it, as every note sounds like it's timed so precisely, not wasting a single one in the grander scheme of things. To me "Damages!" is the absolute winner in this game, as it has energetic passages that sound like they are just about to erupt, but are then enhanced through sections that sound extremely restrained, so that the final release of energy in the chorus is basically doubled to great effect, before being contained again expertly during the next verse, fluctuating like this throughout the song. More than anything, this album marks Braid for me as a band who's ambitiously in full control of every part of their sound.

Both songs that were on Braid's split with Balance and Composure are on this album as well. The first one, the playful "Many Enemies", goes all in on noodling guitar riffs that more than anything declare an influence from emo music of the 90's. The other one is "Lux" which does this as well at a more constantly frantic pace, where "Many Enemies" featured a lot of changes in that department. Vocalist and guitarist Chris Broach's nasal, insisting voice mixes so well with Nanna's warmer and more tentative one, not least when they exchange vocal duties continually and as explicitly as on "Climber New Entry".

While the new Braid-sound doesn't strike me as particularly contemporary, that isn't the same as saying that this is not a relevant release today. The quality of the songs on this album is high all the way through, although the first five continue to be the ones I long to hear again and again. The last song of the album is called "This Is Not A Revolution", and I have been struggling to not spin a bad pun on this, but the bottom line is, that this album is a smashing release, which is expertly executed and sure to be heard in my apartment over the next couple of months, but it isn't necessarily a release that pushes the boundaries of the genre very far.


Download: Damages!, Many Enemies, No Coast, Bang, Doing Yourself In
For The Fans Of: American Football, Hey Mercedes, The Promise Ring

Release date 08.07.2014
Topshelf Records

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