It’s nice to see the hipster-press herd scattering in all directions these days, after following the lead of Pitchfork/Stereogum et al. for so long. In the end, everyone has to make up his/her own mind, after all, and when an emperor has no clothes nowadays, people aren’t afraid to say so. Montreal fractal-dream-poppers Braid, whose buzz was deafening prior to this debut album, have caught some blowback from the aforementioned scattering of the herd, mainly because they’re so much like Animal Collective, indulging in the sort of repetitive robot arpeggios you hear during the happier moments of nature documentaries — yes, sheer unabashed beauty is a tough thing to put up with, isn’t it? Fact is, though, they violently separate from Animal Collective in the vocal area — Raphaelle Standell-Preston is a dead ringer for Fever Ray’s Karin Dreijer Andersson, i.e. part Sinead, part Bjork, which makes the whole thing a slam-dunk if you ask me. Basically, then, if you accept that Animal Collective, along with their predecessors and followers, have forged their own genre, this is at the head of the pack. My only problem with this is that it often sounds too much like Fever Ray (“Native Speaker”), the real boat haters are missing.
—Eric W. Saeger