Native Speaker

If Björk is just a little too weird, and Bat for Lashes seem a bit too Urban Outfitters contrived, then allow us to introduce Braids. The Calgary-cum-Montreal four-piece has been on most bloggers’ radar since early 2010, but it wasn’t until last week that their real-deal debut finally hit shelves. On Native Speaker, the band beautifully blends part ethereal and part eerie electro parts, bringing to mind fellow soundscape junkies Animal Collective or fellow newcomers Baths. Plucky guitars mix and mingle with reverb-laden keyboards on tracks like “Plath Heart,” creating something akin to a hipster-fied Bollywood soundtrack. Elsewhere, swirling ambience stretches cut into (palatably) baroque compositions (“Glass Deers,” “Native Speaker”). What sets it all apart, though, are frontlady Raphaelle Standell-Presto’s impressive vocal leaps, which are part soothing, sireny harmonics, part nightmarish torture yelps, and all weirdly intoxicating.

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