Reunions in music are an interesting experiment to observe. Can a band recapture the magic that carried them through their productive years? Will it be like they never stopped recording together or will we hear audio evidence of why they decided to take a break in the first place?
Not that you can call a decade “a break,” but I think Braid needs to spend some more time together before anyone uses the word “recapture.” Their 4-track EP Closer to Closed is the result of the emo outfit from Champaign, IL getting back into the studio after breaking up while the catchword Y2K was still on many of our lips. With that much time off, the EP feels a little disjointed, like the band is trying to rediscover their sound.
The opening song “The Right Time,” is a light emo song with guitarist Chris Broach offering up vocals with Placebo-like reserve. Vocals shift back over to Bob Nanna for the remaining tracks, and in “Do Over,” the sound moves into a faster-paced sound and the lyrics are typical emo fare like “Now is the part where I break your heart.” The third track, “You Are the Reason,” is a heartfelt cover of the Jeff Hanson song, a tribute to a friend of the band who died of a mixed drug toxicity in 2009.
Closer to Closed offers promise in the closing track, “Universe or Worse.” The minute this song ended, I thought Yes! This is what I wanted to hear! The song offers plenty of the off tempo drumming that makes Braid a compelling listen and stand out in their genre. The whole song has a garage band feel with no-frills production that allows the listener to hear the guitar pick hit the bass string on the opening riffs and fuzzy guitar playing.
Like old friends at a high school reunion, there is an awkward pause before one can settle back into old routines and inside jokes that made you laugh years before. Braid will take some time to get back to where they were when they released Frame & Canvas. I don’t know if they will ever recapture what they did, but by the time Closer to Closed ended, I was hopeful.
Braid – The Right Time by Polyvinyl Records