Flourish // Perish
Aug 26, 2013 Web Exclusive
BRAIDS' 2011 debut Native Speaker stood out as an inventive, cerebral take on the syncopated obsessions of their peers. Returning after a foray into side project Blue Hawaii, the Montréal group's follow up finds them crystallizing their influences and thought processes into one of the most accomplished collections of tracks this year.
Flourish // Perish is entirely shot through with a bristling interplay between voice and percussive melody. While Raphaelle Standell-Preston has grown in confidence as a singer, it's the band's approach to laying down a vocal track that's now a defining element of their sound. "Girl" shimmers with ambience and some of the record's most abstract sonic while Preston's prettified lines dominate, leading the draw and release. On "Hossak" she becomes a mechanical repetition, cut into the groove and statically frayed around the edges.
An acknowledged debt to some of BRAIDS' high caliber tour-mates such as Battles and Portishead is woven neatly into the trio's obsession with loops. Masquerading as a grounding constant, each layered cycle is coated with a mathematical crackle and pop that forms the record's DNA. "Together" draws these elements into a unified whole that anchors the midway point.
The "slow and steady growth/filled with ebb and flow" that Preston tells of in "Ebben" essentially confirms where the conceptual heart of Flourish // Perish really lies. Peaks and drops alike unveil a rich and full detail that becomes beautifully granular on subsequent listens without being obscure or academic. (www.braidsmusic.com)
Author rating: 8/10