Native Speaker

Album Review of Native Speaker by The Braids.

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Native Speaker

The Braids

Native Speaker by The Braids

Release Date: Jan 18, 2011
Record label: Kanine Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock

79 Music Critic Score
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Native Speaker - Very Good, Based on 14 Critics

Rolling Stone - 100
Based on rating 5/5
100

"I found my place in the wishing well/I found my place not feeling well," sings Braids vocalist/guitarist Raphaelle Standell-Preston, summing up the Montreal foursome's mix of euphoria and ambiguity. Their debut takes the beatific psychedelic washes of Animal Collective back to the testy clatter of punk-folk wild women the Raincoats — an at times nutty, at times serene, mash-up of pastoral guitar babble, minimal orchestral drones, loopy chorale vocals and porous, roiling rhythms. Standell-Preston holds it together, trilling "I can't stop it" or "it doesn't really matter how many times you say no" or "have you fucked all those dragons yet," sucking us in while she keeps us guessing.

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Prefix Magazine - 90
Based on rating 9.0/10
90

It’s fitting that the first noise on Native Speaker, the beguiling, bewitching debut album from Montreal’s Braids, is a crackling, dripping haze. This is a band that is all about abstraction, experimentation and, most important, obfuscation. There’s no easy throughway into understanding Braids, no hit single bound for iPod commercials, no sing-along lyrics, and no songs with easily digestible narrative arcs.

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Drowned In Sound - 90
Based on rating 9/10
90

I was in the middle of chatting to those fresh-faced Calgarian upstarts Braids on a shonky, one pound per minute speakerphone a couple of months back, when the four of them broke into a pensive, extensive and, on my end, a very fucking expensive inter-band discussion. The ponderous youngsters were attempting to explain, or perhaps justify, the “mathematical” processes behind their debut album. And to tell the truth, their self-conscious spiel was upstaged by the simple fact of the conversation’s fierce intensity; while I wasn’t exactly drooling with libidinous delight at the thought of their “constructive and deconstructive” songwriting methods, it was curious and quietly charming that they so rigorously concern themselves with such matters in the first place.

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Filter - 81
Based on rating 81%%
81

Hailing from the “Canadian prairies of Calgary,” Braids has arrived, and Native Speaker proclaims that the youthful foursome is good and ready to get warmed up. Kandy-kolored as it may appear, there is little about Braids’ debut that one would refer to as “innocent.” Swirling sugared irony together with freewheeling hormones, Native Speaker is an amalgam of feminine assertion and unabashed lust. The opener, “Lemonade,” introduces a theme of wantonness that pervades throughout the record.

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Sputnikmusic - 80
Based on rating 4.0/5
80

Review Summary: The only thing to do is love, and so I do.There’s been some backlash to Native Speaker already, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. These open spaces, these syncopated drums, and these major chords, these goddamn major chords so effortlessly navigated by Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s ethereal voice positively soar together. I thought everyone at least kind of liked Bjork, right? I’m not denying that the influences on Braids are numerous and obvious, but it’s reductive to compare Native Speaker to its predecessors.

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NOW Magazine - 80
Based on rating 4/5
80

Flemish Eye consistently snaps up Calgary's most exciting young bands, and they've done it again with Braids, an indie rock four-piece that delivers sweeping soundscapes. Raphaelle Standell-Preston's vocals are the centrepiece. Her joyous, wispy lines swell into passionate, sinister wails, as on standout track Glass Deers. Her voice compels completely.

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Pitchfork - 79
Based on rating 7.9/10
79

There are dreams, there are nightmares, and then there are those night visions that don't quite qualify as either, the unnerving images and dialogues that rattle about your head in your waking life for the rest of the day and reveal strange, forgotten details every time you pick at them. That's the kind of stuff we need to be talking about if we're going to call Braids "dream-pop" as so many others have. The quartet's bracing debut Native Speaker is almost Inception-like in its warping of reality, equally tactile and dissolute, cerebral and surreal and ultimately haunting for its refusal to answer questions the same way twice.

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New Musical Express (NME) - 70
Based on rating 3.5/5
70

There’s probably not much to do growing up in [b]Alberta[/b], [b]Canada[/b] – assuming you’re not into shooting animals and freezing in log cabins – and few places to hear new music either. So it’s not surprising that [a]Braids[/a], clearly immersed in the blogosphere, stew up influences from some of the biggest 2.0 hits of the last few years on their debut. Fronted by [b]Raphaelle Standell-Preston[/b], who sings like a less tiring [a]Joanna Newsom[/a] on [b]’Plath Heart'[/b], the four-piece deal with [b]Animal Collective’s[/b] arpeggiated synths, chillwave’s hazy guitars and [b]Gang Gang Dance’s[/b] tribal percussion.

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No Ripcord - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

Native Speaker is a stunning full-length debut with music that sounds shrouded in much mystery. With evocative vocal work and instrumentation that doesn't disappoint driving this Montreal outfit, this is easily among the most interesting full debuts of the still-short year. Though individual tracks do sometimes draw a bit long, and musical ideas sometimes get lost in the exposition, it's hard to be upset.

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Tiny Mix Tapes - 70
Based on rating 3.5/5
70

Decamping to Montreal to produce and record their debut Native Speaker, Braids’ lush pop epics reveal a band maturing way ahead of its age. The group’s compositional process could be summed up as exuberant stacking, the piling and peeling of layers. Judging by the buzz in advance of the album from the likes of The New York Times and Pitchfork, the approach has put them in the good graces of the trendsetting and the trendy, but they do in fact deserve the attention.

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AllMusic - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

Depending on whatever aspect of Braids' music captures listeners at any moment, they call to mind widely varied influences. Over the course of their debut, Native Speaker, shades of Animal Collective, Björk, Karen O, the Cocteau Twins, Siouxsie Sioux, and Yeasayer pop up in the most improbable combinations, making for unpredictable -- and sometimes thrilling -- listening. Opening track “Lemonade” defines the band’s sound, from its intricate instrumentation to its free-flowing structure to Raphaelle Standell-Preston's angelic voice, which coos surprisingly profane lyrics like “Have you fucked all the stray kids yet?” Standell-Preston's singing and the band’s playing are both forces to be reckoned with, but for most of Native Speaker they work together instead of competing with each other.

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PopMatters - 60
Based on rating 6/10
60

If a debut album is about making the most of your growing pains and the touch-and-go process of finding the right balance between indulgence and innovation, then blogosphere darlings Braids are on the right track with Native Speaker. Like an ambitious but sometimes unruly first draft, Native Speaker is an artistically daring effort with enough fascinating parts to it that you’re willing to overlook how pulling in the reins could’ve brought more out of Braids’ best ideas. On those terms, the comparisons floating online to Animal Collective in its early days seem apt for the young Montreal-based quartet, as a group that needs a little more room to run with its imagination, even if that means it takes longer for you—and probably the band itself—to figure out where it’s headed.

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BBC Music
Their review was positive

Consumes you like those lost hours spent locked away in a bedroom with a new lover. Ele Beattie 2011 It’s not just looks that can be deceiving; sounds can hoodwink, too. The debut album from Montreal-based four-piece BRAIDS is such a trompe l'oreille. First impressions are of delicate, hazy melodies brimming with purity; a childlike magic hovers amongst hypnotic loops and psychedelic sounds comparable to Gang Gang Dance or Animal Collective.

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The New York Times
Their review was positive

BRAIDS “Native Speaker” (Kanine). In one of art-rock’s unwritten rules, the patterns of Minimalism are usually paired with cosmic or cerebral musings. But it doesn’t apply to Braids, a four-member band formed in Calgary and now based in Montreal that has just released its debut album, .

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