A horrible hack


Closer to Closed

Year Released: 2011
Format: 12" EP
Label: Polyvinyl
Reviewed by Andy Malcolm on Aug 12, 2011
I am the kind of guy who can forgive Braid an awful lot. However, I also feel like I can't give them a free pass, as much as I'd like to. They remain the best live band I have ever been in the same room as, and the second two LPs are stone cold classics that I am certain I could listen to front to back at any given moment. Post Braid of course, there was Hey Mercedes who started strongly and finished meekly, though they were not without their moments. And now we are full circle. Welcome back, hehey, it's Braid everybody!

This EP gets off to a start that induces winces. "The Right Time" is fronted by Chris Broach, but it feels like something that didn't even make the cut for Hey Mercedes. Perhaps Chris felt like he finally wanted to be a part of that band. What makes it worse is the lyrics, they sound like Braid is winking all at each other, with a song that is actually about Braid rather than a relationship. Broach opines "It can never be this good again, you know it's true. Even though we tried before, we couldn't see it through". Oops. There are little flickers of the Braid that stole your heart in the late 90s, mostly in the guitar, but overall this is at best disposable, and at worst disheartening.

Bob re-takes the vocal reigns for "Do Over", another track which struggles to stake claim to your attention, though it does have a nice bouncy bit. Again, it's something that could have gone on the 2nd Hey Mercedes LP, which is fair enough. "You Are The Reason" shows a much better approach, with a beautiful, swaying emo waltz bringing things in. Unfortunately, they thought this song could be spiced up a piano. Really, this song does not need the piano, nor the heavy handed bass work. A shame, as this is substantially better than the first two songs, but it again has a poppiness that is schmaltzy rather than inspired.

The best is saved for last on the lengthy "Universe of Worse", which is stuttery and far more downbeat than the other tracks. The more subtle bass on this one enhances rather than detracts, and it sounds like a melancholic, grown up Braid, and that is pretty much exactly what I'd want to hear at the ripe old age of 34 from these guys. It also sounds like it needs some trumpet. Cool song.

Look: this ain't bad. But the thing is, Braid have a lot to live up to for anyone who ever became besotted by what they did. This basically should never have been called a Braid release. It's not the same band. There is so little that links 2011 to 1998 bar the peeps making the noises that it would have done all involved (musicians and listeners) a favour to break the ties that bind. Still, it's Bob Nanna, there's one really nice song on it and these guys made some of my favourite music ever. Maybe that free pass is still on the table.

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