ALBUM REVIEW: Braids – Shadow Offering
BEST TRACKS: Just Let Me, Upheaval II, Young Buck
FCC violations: Snow Angel, Fear of Men
This three-piece band from Calgary, Alberta is a group of friends that met over ten years ago when they were in high school, and started rehearsing in a dingy garage. In these formative years, the band had success, winning a songwriting contest and being invited to play at Sled Island Music Festival. Following this success, the band collectively made the bold decision to postpone going to college so they could continue making music together. Since then, Braids has released 4 studio albums that are all very highly regarded by their audience. With their most recent release, Shadow Offering, Braids creates a deeply emotional, heavily ambient 45-minute journey. Braids claims that with Shadow Offering , they were able to go back to their roots and take the time to slowly rediscover their artistry, and it certainly shows. Shadow Offering has personality, originality, and passion.
On Shadow Offering, Braids fully embrace their spacious, shoegaze side, which they had been restraining in their past records in favor of a more electronic-pop palette. In lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s voice, there is an outpour of fierce confidence. Even though she sings lyrics that are often about her own shortcomings, her voice is strong, proud, and unapologetic. Resonating piano keys and humming bass invoke a sense of deep reverie. The way that the drums sometimes pick up with a rush of flourishing guitar strums keeps the album fresh and invigorating throughout.
When listening to this album, I truly felt the pain of a poisoned relationship. The candidness in which Standell-Preston discusses the way that she wastes time on frivolous dreams in ‘Upheaval II’ is almost lighthearted but you just can’t ignore the underlying sense of dread that hints that this self-destruction is less harmless than it seems. I recommend this band if you like Ravenna Golden, Fiona Apple, or Angel Olsen.