by Mike Rusenovich
Flourish // Perish is the second full album from the Canadian group BRAIDS. Their first, Native Speaker, was released in 2011. BRAIDS have a distinct electronic-inspired sound, but it is difficult to define the group as any specific genre. Their songs are filled with echoing samples and shimmering lead vocals delivered precisely by Raphaelle Standell-Preston.
Many bands attempt to draw you in with catchy hooks, or impressive, sweeping anthems. Not so with BRAIDS. While the group is experienced at creating interesting musical phrases, they deliver them sparsely, never showing you their full hand. Put bluntly, BRAIDS is not exciting. They are, however, very good. This is music to be listened to while lying on your bed, in the dark, alone. BRAIDS inspires a sense of yearning without ever revealing what that yearning is for. Most importantly, the album is not stuck in a sad place. Instead, they deliver a very specific feeling – nostalgia without a sense of loss; bittersweetness with its claws removed.
On their previous album, BRAIDS did not have a song underneath four minutes long. On Flourish // Perish, there are three songs that fit within a comfortable three-and-a-half minute frame. BRAIDS seems to be making an effort to be more accessible, but they still have not lost any of their out-there charm. Standout songs on the album like “Hossak” and “In Kind” showcase the group’s ability to pull seemingly random rhythms out of the air and weave them together into a wonderful, unexpected whole. BRAIDS is not impossible to dance to, but there are no club bangers on Flourish // Perish. Be prepared for the world’s strangest moves on songs like “Amends.”
Though Flourish // Perish is not wildly different from BRAIDS’ first album, it builds, changes, and purifies the group’s unique sound. The new release is delivered with panache and without irony. Flourish // Perish is a difficult album to show your friends, but is still an album worth listening to.