Canada has given us a lot to work with in terms of music, specifically indie rock. Scores of baby Brooklyn bands have tried to imitate the success of giants like Broken Social Scene, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Arcade Fire, with mixed success. BRAIDS is one of Canada’s most recent cultural contributions, and it is definitely in the “navel-gazing” category.

Listen to “Plath HeartDOWNLOAD MP3

Amid swirling guitars and fuzzed out synths, vocalist Katie Lee’s voice pierces the haze. The most compelling songs are the ones like “Lammicken” (my personal favorite), where her voice is the primary focus. The dramatic layering of guitar lines and percussion gives the songs a haunted texture, but gets the listener lost within a dreamlike state all of the haze induces. BRAIDS’ beauty is fine for the background, and certainly atmospheric for a live event, but the most structured songs that inspire repeated listens only comprise about half of the record.

The band’s strength is certainly in music composition and performance; the balance between its gorgeous vocals and the instrumentation is compelling. However, the weakness is in the actual structure of the songs, most of which wander to the point of distraction. While “Lemonade” and “Plath Heart” are on focus, the momentum is lost with “Glass Deer” and “Native Speaker” — both the longest songs on the record — only to be found again with “Lammicken.” For those comfortable with equal parts meandering and beauty, Native Speaker will speak to them.

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