Braid – Closer To Closed (Polyvinyl Records 2011)
From 1993 to 1999 emo pioneers (back when emo wasn’t a dirty word) Braid tore through the post punk world with catchy, chugging riffs, layered with slightly off kilter guitars and slightly off kilter vocal melodies. But these songs built a memorable scene that went missing about 10 years ago. Braid’s last formal full length “Frames and Canvas” still gets heavy play from me with its stop start opener “New Nathan Detroits” it had several songs that I considered to be ear worms. A brief reunion tour in 2004 is the last we saw of Braid until now.
Four song ep “Closer to Closed” opens up with “The Right Time” sung by secondary vocalist Chris Broach. Frankly, it sounds nothing like Braid, but it sounds a lot like the 2000’s emo bands that littered the scene with boring pseudo-emotional music. This song would fit perfectly on a “Sunday’s Best” album, but it is not Braid. Where are the noisy off kilter guitar riffs? Where is the tense, tightly wound vocals or fist pumping anthems? They have been sadly replaced with half-hearted, half tempo pop/punk and I use that term loosely. The dueling guitar parts are gone, instead they have two mostly uninteresting guitar lines that are mixed together in a bland wash of sound.
The next three songs, all sung by Bob Nanna are cut from the same cloth as the first. Sounding as if they were throw aways from Nanna’s post Braid project “Hey Mercedes”. The way the songs are sung and played sound like the band is not that interested in their own music. “Do Over” is missing every vital aspect of the original flavor of the band and you can hear them try desperately to capture the sound again in the last 30 seconds of the song, but they fall well short. Nanna sings in the chorus “I want a Do Over, Do Over”, makes me wonder if he is referring to this Ep…….
“You Are The Reason” is an obscure cover of a Jeff Hanson song (don’t worry I had to look up the name as well) and while it seems to be a faithful cover, it doesn’t scream Braid. It once again belongs nested quite nicely on a Hey Mercedes album with the rest of these songs. EP closer “Universe of Worse” has the slight stutter step that was trademark Braid, but it is still very, very far away from what made the band interesting. The song seems to lose its direction about midway through and you forget about it at the same time.
Why they stuck the “Braid” tag on these songs instead of “Hey Mercedes” is most likely a marketing thing more than anything else. They know that the Braid name will sell a lot more than that of any of the post Braid output, so why not. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a return to form for a once great band.
Score – 5.0/10