By Michael Lello

Braids, from Canada, are often referred to as a shoegaze band, but the music is a bit too bouyant and “up” to rightfully fall into that category. A better reference point might be the experimental yet fun pop rock of a band like Broken Social Scene.

The first Braids album is called “Native Speaker,” and it is an ambitious amalgamation of sounds; sometimes it’s too ambitious, like during the 13-minute stretch that is the title track and “Lammicken,” two essentially amorphous and rhythm-less tracks. But that’s OK; this is a band finding itself, and when it hits the sweet spots, it’s worth it for musicians and audiences alike. This has much to do with the distinctive and etherela vocals of Raphaelle Standell-Preston. She sings with a light and airy feel that stands in delightfully sharp — and naughty — contrast to some of the blue language she uses throughout.

Rating 70/81

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