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Braids - Deep In The Iris (Album Review)

Friday, 01 May 2015 Written by Huw Baines

There’s a theory that the best records are created on the edge of a precipice, that tension, friction, loss or heartache are indispensable ingredients. ‘Deep In The Iris’, Braids’ third album, emerges following a period of deliberate, organised calm. The Montreal trio, keen to reassemble friendships and avoid the stress encountered while putting together the complex, electronics-dominated ‘Flourish // Perish’, decamped to remote locations in Arizona, Vermont, and upstate New York with songs on their mind.

The first thing to note is the overall shift in tone. This is far less busy than its predecessor, less reliant on technology and considerably more traditional in its structures. At the heart of that is Raphaelle Standell-Preston, whose vocals are no longer another piece of a puzzle, rather a foundation on which the band can build.

This, in turn, pushes a brilliant collection of lyrics into the foreground. There are echoes of longing, loneliness, hope and anger, with Standell-Preston refusing to hide.

She unpicks the details and competing emotions that accompany broken relationships and talks frankly about sex. “We experience the love that we think that we deserve,” she sings on the mellifluous Taste. “And I guess I thought I didn't need much from this world."

Miniskirt is a compelling takedown of rape culture and an all-too-common strain of misogyny. “It’s like I’m wearing red, and if I am, you feel you’ve the right to touch me,” she sings. “‘Cause I asked for it.” The song builds from simple beginnings into a powerful statement, driven on by Standell-Preston’s singular delivery.

Elsewhere, Austin Tufts’ percussion is warm and subtle, moving further from the synth-pop iciness of ‘Flourish // Perish’. There are spells when ‘Deep In The Iris’ meanders but, to seek a positive, that adds extra weight to its finest moments. Taste tops the bill, Miniskirt shines in the middle order and, just as the record is winding down, Bunny Rose is another complex, intelligent reading of relationship dynamics: “I miss you. Well, we all die anyways so what’s the bad with being alone while we’re living.”

‘Deep In The Iris’ is a new look for Braids, but one that they inhabit with great poise and purpose. The best songs of their career are here, wrapped in quiet moments and reflective passages.

Braids Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri May 01 2015 - LONDON Total Refreshment Centre

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