Album Reviews

Braids – Euphoric Recall

(Secret City) UK release date: 28 April 2023

An album that very much wears its heart on its sleeve, complex yet accessible, and best experienced when fully immersed into

Braids - Euphoric Recall There can’t have been many more unfortunate times to release a new album than the Spring of 2020. It was a situation that Braids found themselves in April of that year, when their fourth album Shadow Offering was due to be released. The release was delayed to the summer, and it was generally well-received, but it seemed to go under the radar for most people, for understandable reasons.

It makes Euphoric Recall seem like even more of a comeback than it normally would be for the Canadian trio. The enforced break feels more like a reset, and has produced an album full of beauty, energy and experimentation, one that reveals more layers the more you listen to it.

Admittedly, it’s not a huge departure from Braids’ previous work. It’s a beguiling mix of electronica experimentation and more organic instruments – this time around, the band have composed and arranged their own string sections, and an ensemble of cello, viola and violins gives the album a lush, warm sound.

On top of this is Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s extraordinary voice, sounding like the missing link between Kate Bush and Björk at times, who can even make wordless vocalising (the first minute or so of Evolution) sound strangely moving.

The lyrics on Euphoric Recall were written by Standell-Preston in the first flush of a new relationship, and she portrays love “in all it’s icky, icky glory” as one song puts it. Apple is about the joy of hearing her partner play piano and spending money on them, while Left_Right is stunning in its simplicity: “You’re so beautiful, I can’t believe it”, with some beautiful strings underpinning the song in a wonderfully effective way. It would sound corny in any other hands, but it’s delivered so genuinely that you can’t help but be enchanted.

At other times, it almost sounds like Standell-Preston is singing in a stream-of-consciousness way, with Supernova throwing in lyrical references to the dark web, the KKK and being burned at the stake, yet also sounding like one of the most transcendent love songs of the year. It’s one of a few songs on the album with a lengthy running time, yet none of its eight minutes are wasted.

As you’d expect with an album written all about love, the general mood of the record is dreamy and blissed out – you could almost sink into the introductory glistening synths of Millennia while on Lucky Star, Taylor Smith’s synths almost embrace the listener as Standell-Preston softly sings “I miss you… I miss you”.

Retriever also brings to mind some of Björk’s more languid moments, a nine-minute epic that builds up beautifully, full of bubbling synths and increasingly complex drum arrangements before eventually gliding into a sense of cathartic exhilaration. It meshes effortlessly into the title track which ends the record on a suitably shimmering note.

Euphoric Recall is an album that very much wears its heart on its sleeve, complex yet accessible, and best experienced when fully immersed in it. It’s possibly Braids’ best record since their debut Native Speaker – a record that reveals more delights the more times you listen to it.

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More on Braids
Braids – Euphoric Recall
Braids – Shadow Offering