Figure it out as you go. Listening to Braids’ latest, Euphoric Recall, places the pairing at the heart of popular indietronica. Whether they were there before the boom or hanging on with their isolated, jilted lyrics is difficult to surmise. They are disconnected enough to work as those long-standing, whiplash-inducing bands that refuse to settle on a tone but are too rigid to make the most of it. Euphoric Recall is an immediate study of that. Eight-minute opener Supernova is a flurry of big ideas and a scattershot state of play. It explodes like that titular star but the love it feels for that recall is lost in the soil, its nature-oriented impression a cluster of ideas wild and unkempt.
Raphaelle Standell-Preston holds firm with a strong voice but her impression leaves a scattered and unsteady mess in her wake. Screeches, whines and cries contrast and clash with a slower theme The Guardian nailed eight years ago. Yes, it is a bit like Björk. But Björk had knowing lyrics, a tender heart that beat through a tide of chaos. Braids do not have that on Euphoric Recall and it prevents them from getting any further than their talent should take them. They clearly have something but the velvet rope of quality does not drop for Euphoric Recall. Apple has electronica at its heart and the incremental volume increases are likely a chance to drown out the lyrics of light and frequent mentions of financial ruin through gifts to the protagonist of the track. This is what happens when twee intricacies and string sections are applied to a song like Left/Right, a track that spends a hefty pocket of time romanticising finger-sucking.
Whatever Braids hope for, sure, it is no big deal but their examples and their relatable accuracies are for such a specific niche. It is not just the act of body parts in mouths of course, there is a uniqueness in the unhinged variations but not in the style taken. Euphoric Recall makes a mess of its lyrical concepts and has sporadic instrumental detail to make up for it. Left/Right is not one of them, a track that meddles its way through the air-headed intensity that is meant to be as liberated as the strings behind it. No such luck. Millennia continues the theme of blind love and Braids feature little to nothing in the way of surprises. They strike with a similar chord and can neither break from it or progress it further.
Braids is an interesting experience, more because Euphoric Recall has such positivity for the past. Much of the time it could not be further from the truth. In finding the upbeat memories and the longing for what has already died, moved on or been forgotten by the other person, Braids creates an impossible longing. Perhaps that is the point, the futility of that. But it never feels futile. Braids appear convinced they can head back, with tracks like Lucky Star as hopeful as it is shimmering under those quiet but plastic emotions. They are fans of the disquiet, the disarray and the desire to go back, but do not project all possibilities. It is not a black-and-white experience, but Braids lack the vulnerability, the poetry, to make it work. Scattered and meaningless lyrics and accidentally moving imagery are two different fields. Braids are the former.