There are two types of songs on Native Speaker, Canadian quartet Braids’ debut album. Both types shimmer, delicate in their retina-searing brilliance. Both cascade in a deluge of climactic sound.
However, what separates the 'great' songs from the 'good' is the unsuppressed - and, arguably, unsurpassed - sexuality of the music. Braids, sometimes, are so awash in a tide of seductive sensuality - so fulsome and flirtatious in their sound - that it's near impossible to keep your cool as you listen. The raw tension that builds in these songs - in Native Speaker and Lammicken and Lemonade - seems to flood the remainder of the album in latent sexuality.
This sexuality, however, is not NIN 'Closer' sexuality. There's no 'I want to fuck you like an animal' here. Braids style of music is somewhat more refined than NIN, and so, it seems, is their attitude towards hedonism. Though you may catch Raphaelle Standell-Preston singing 'Have you fucked all the stray kids yet?' or 'I'm having you inside me', she lives up her name - her voice soaring with the purity of an angel both in tone and innocence. The majority of the songs on the album are about sex, and yet the band maintains what is almost a pure promiscuity. There is nothing dirty about Braids music (though I can't vouch for Braids themselves) and you just can't help but feel that the tone of the album comes not from sexual debauchery, but from their total honesty in handling emotions and desires.
Instrumentally, Braids' sound is all about rolling, tidal, undulation - whether in obvious vocal and instrumental patterns or in the slow climax and anti-climax of their song structures - and they use soft, subterranean instrumentation to produce a hazy twilight of desirous tones perpetuating their music. Though some songs are more upbeat and self-propelling, you can always feel that undercurrent of motion - the rhythmic, rapturous progression of their love.
Lammicken is bone-tingling; passionately moaning into life; shuddering with inevitability as the single lyric 'I can't stop it.' is transformed - Preston playfully experimenting with her heady vocals. The song builds slowly and subtly into a shrieking climax, then subsides, leaving you to reflect upon its ecstasy.
Title trick Native Speaker is titillating in every way - from its lurching velvet backing, to its sensual lyrics - and once again the vocals writhe with delight. When Raphaelle croons ‘But my my my my my... it feels good.’ it’s as if she is pouring her sweat-inducing fantasies into your eager ears and you‘re trapped - unable to do anything but lap up her rapturous secrets with the insatiable appetite of an illicit lover.