Review: Braid – No Coast

Braid are chiefly known as a seminal 90’s indie rock band from Illinois, who peaked in 1998 with their ‘Frame & Canvas’ album. This culminated in rave reviews and a European tour but alas they burned out soon after and have only recently returned to the live circuit.

Braid Album Cover

The keys to the band then and now are held by Chris Broach and Bob Nanna who provide a sustained, two-pronged guitar and vocal attack on the eardrums. This being their first album in over a decade, Braid are in no mood to mess about either. ‘No Coast’ begins with a ‘Bang’, quite literally. It’s an explosive song full to the brim with propulsive rhythms (from dynamic duo Todd Bell and Damon Atkinson), bruising guitars and emo vocals. It’s followed by ‘East End Hollows’ where the first of their distinctive harmonies is thrust upon us and the group sound phenomenally youthful singing “you take these dreams and throw them out the window”. For the title track the vocal and guitar hooks are slowed down but just as addictive and now they offer an emotional ache to go with it. Even the lyrics are designed to be sung along to: ‘Someone please call the police!’ is yelled for ‘Damages!’ whilst “This is not a revolution” is the main tagline for, well, ‘This Is Not A Revolution’ .

After the tight and infectious first half, though, Braid do rather lose their way with songs racing by as per the earlier tracks but not quite leaving the same indelible impression as before. However, they recover for the stop-start and drive of ‘Lux’. Then comes the real killer song. ‘Doing Yourself In’ may mention “the sweetest melody” but the song’s combination of portentous lyrics (“at 23 she sees the future, her dreams are dark”) and heartache-inducing guitars create a sad and poignant moment far removed from the otherwise chipper outlook of the record.

Twenty years into their career, these guys seem more energised than ever. All of which makes the band’s description of ‘No Coast’ as a “rebirth” perfectly understandable and the content is mature enough to ensnare more than just the emo kids too.

Web Sites:
Album Stream for Braid – No Coast

Further Listening:
HIJK, Pilot To Gunner

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