Music Reviews
Native Speaker

Braids Native Speaker

(Kanine) Rating - 7/10

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. Thanks to a stellar opener, the rambling Lemonade, even the boring moments here are steeped in a knowledge that, soon enough, the pace will pick up again.

Where Native Speaker really succeeds is in the almost flippant interplay between synthesizers and vocals. When the vocals snap up in pitch then playfully flit around a theme, the album really falls into place. The synthesizers — never glitchy or blippy — are frenetic and excited, and the combination of the two makes for something uniquely exciting. It's an effect best heard in Plath Heart, a swirling song that's simple and fun.

Native Speaker suffers from its sometimes homogenous approach and overly long tracks — two are longer than eight minutes, two longer than six minutes, and the remaining three are longer than four minutes. It's clear that there must be a more parsimonious way to craft these tracks, and they could certainly benefit from a trim or two, but by and large, they do work. They're just a little clumsy and overburdened, and the album might have been bettered with more focus.

It doesn't help that each track sounds a bit like the track preceding it, but where that may be a bit of a problem, it's equally the case that the album is a cohesive unit. It ebbs and flows, and in the end, Native Speaker is a satisfying, invigorating listen.