Braids – ‘Shadow Offering’ reviewed

  Lo-fi, melodic angst and upbeat indie pop from the Montreal art rockers.

The fourth outing for the Montreal based Art Rock trio Braids, Shadow Offering offers a nine track, ethereal lament of self reflection and relationships

Produced by Chris Walla, former member of alt-rock sweethearts of the 2000’s Death Cab For Cutie and mixer, engineer and producer for many other artists in the genre (Give Up by The Postal Service was a staple of my teens!), It delivers a seamless dream-like transition between melodies that showcase the vocal stylings of lead singer, Raphaelle Standell-Preston.

From breathy to Björk-like urgency, Standell-Preston navigates through human emotions that have an earnest quality about them. The songs feel personal and therapeutic.

With the album release delayed due to the current COVID-19 crisis worldwide, the track Snow Angel, the band themselves has commented, takes new meaning from it being written in the wake of the 2016 US Election of Donald Trump:

*This* moment, with our world in the midst of a pandemic, is admittedly a new context. But I can’t help but sense the song speaks to feelings many of us are experiencing – uncertainty, angst and a desperate desire to make sense of it all.

The song attempts to tackle various issues that present themselves in our cultural and political zeitgeist, from climate change to White privilege. This is executed through New Wavey atmospheric vocals dipped in a post-punk stream of consciousness and jarring slam poetry which although well-meaning and earnest, feels at times bullet-pointed where perhaps it should’ve been underlined.

This record does feel like an evolutionary moment for the band, whose previous outings focused more heavily on melodic synths synonymous with the art-rock genre, centering Standell-Preston’s emotive vocal range throughout.

Just Let me presents  a heartful slow indie-ballad amongst gentle frustration and soothingly timed melodies with slow build crescendos.

Much with the swaying theme of Lo-fi, melodic angst, Young Buck explores and airs the ‘pointless’ pursuit of relationships, but with an upbeat indie pop sound that almost makes you forget this after the fact. Its honesty paired with the chorus makes it my favourite track of the album. Closely followed by Fear Of Men.

A twinkly outing, soaked in satisfying indie pop that compliments Raphaelle’s sometimes sweet, sometimes haunting vocals, Braids, I feel are at their strongest when exploring the complicated emotions of human relationships.

Braids – ‘Shadow Offering’ was released 25 June, 2020, via Secret City Records. CLICK HERE to order.

❉ Cori Ann Smith is a writer for We Are Cult. A Cardiff-based Literature grad, Horror nerd & eclectic Indie cindy, you’ll mostly find her immersed in a book or in a festival crowd, usually with a beer. Perpetually working on a book of short stories… @coriflowercheez on Twitter.

Become a patron at Patreon!