I have been following Braids for several years now, and have consistently enjoyed their records. Companion is their new EP and it comes a year after their excellent Deep in the Iris.
Their last album was a little less heavy on the electronics than some of their previous work, and this EP seems to bring a bit more fusion to their sound. There are real drums and drum machines, synths and strings.
Title track Companion starts things off with vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston singing lightly, her voice in delicate layers over synths. It's a really pretty tune that ebbs and flows nicely, Standell-Preston soaring or growling along with the variably density of the tune.
Joni is a very happy sounding tune burbling beats and Standell-Preston singing a little fast. The frantic pace and skipping odd rhythms make this a little Autechre-influenced, although only slightly. Braids never lose sight of the melody even as the song skips along. This is a fun tune.
Trophies For Paradox keeps the skittering IDM beats and adds in tinkling keys and crisp strummed guitar as Standell-Preston sings soft and breathy. The voice she really soars and sways here. This one reminds me of Four Tet.
And finally we wrap things up with Sweet World. Here the electro beats head into dubstep territory as Braids bring a little of The xx to their lovely pop. The beats clatter along as Standell-Preston sings, epically, dramatically, beautifully over the tinkling keys and skittering beats. It goes through a lot in seven minutes, but it's all very lovely.
Braids have evolved over the past few years into a really amazing band. What they are doing is really cool, complex, and lovely. This is a pretty little EP, and i look forward to what they will do next.