Braid – Closer to Closed Braid – Closer to Closed

Do you remember your first crush on a musician? Did you buy all their records and sing along at top volume, swooning all the way? Or maybe you scored tickets to their show(s) and waited outside long before the event to make sure that you got to be front row center to stare at them longingly? Or you even finagled a backstage pass or a chance to see them outside the concert, and you mumbled out words of fandom?

I did all those things with my first rock star swoon fest, which happened in the mid-90s. Braid, a post-punk/emo band, filled my stomach with butterflies. They played jangly, syncopation-filled driving rock mixed with poetic lyrics. How can you argue with sentiments like, “Let’s go undercover/like young lovers should/Cause I can kiss you better/Than this letter could”?

After Braid’s breakup in 1999, they seemed done, aside from a couple post-breakup collections, and a reunion tour in 2004. Now, Braid is releasing an EP of new material, Closer to Closed. The new work is a 4 song collection composed of 3 new tracks and a cover of Jeff Hanson’s “You Are the Reason”.

The 13 years since Braid’s last release has apparently provided extensive time to mellow. Chris Broach’s introductory song “The Right Time” has nary a scream nor “Yeah!” Bob Nanna, himself, tweeted during recording, on February 20th, that “He’s a crooner now.” Honestly, I miss the yelling and the propulsion through the songs that went with it. The first song portends a gentler direction on the rest of the tracks. A more mature Braid awaits listeners.

Unlike their previous records, which featured many tempo changes and copious crescendos and decrescendos within each song (think the LoudQuietLoud formula of the Pixies), Closer to Closed has more straight-ahead, midtempo songs at a consistent volume.

That this change occurs is a bit unexpected considering that J Robbins (Jawbox) produced it. Similar to Phil Spector with his Wall of Sound, J Robbins has a particular style that is legendary within the indie community. Just like some people will buy a record because Spector produced it, many post-punk/post-hardcore/emo fans will pony up for J Robbins’ talent behind the boards. Even though he also produced Braid’s last record, Frame and Canvas, that missing LoudQuietLoud unfortunately leaves missing a signature part of Braid’s wonderful sound.

On a positive note, the album’s lyrics feature plenty of sincere and lovely rhymes, such as “Do Over”’s “You’re someone else’s satellite/You’re someone else’s tonight.” I’m definitely glad to see this part of Braid’s style intact.

Ultimately, the two final tracks, “You Are the Reason” and “Universe or Worse” are the highlights of the record. It almost feels like over the course of the EP, Braid is slowly unfurling, and it takes until the end of EP for them to reach solid ground. My hope is that this EP is a warm-up for Braid, that they take this momentum and build more new music.

If you wanted the old Braid to come back, I’m afraid to say you’ll be disappointed. However, if you can take this EP on its own merits and appreciate indie pop, then check it out. I, for one, still admire Braid, their record label Polyvinyl, and the production of J Robbins, and I find “Closer to Closed” well worth the spins.

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I want to hear about your first musician crush in the comments. Come on, share–I know you haven’t forgotten.

Tracklist:

1. The Right Time
2. Do Over
3. You Are the Reason
4. Universe or Worse

Braid - Closer to Closed, reviewed by Betsy Lee on 2011-08-15T11:14:56+00:00 rating 3.0 out of 5



One Response about “Braid – Closer to Closed”

  • rowe says:

    this reminds me of going to junior college and wanting to blow my fucking brains out, in that good kinda way