“Every girl I know at some point stopped eating…/ But in my position, I’m the slut/ I’m the bitch, I’m the whore/ the one you hate…/ It’s like I’m wearing red and if I am you feel you’ve the right to touch me/ Cos I asked for it.”
We could just place these impassioned lyrics on slut-shaming from Miniskirt here and end the review by championing Braids‘ Raphaelle Standell as a poster girl for our generation. Like Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES, it’s clear that hers is a voice that today’s musical landscape desperately needs: a fiery, unrepentant fightback against issues such as patriarchal slut-shaming, set to the magical fuck-you of relentlessly good melodies.
Something seems to have switched with Braids. The Montreal band, despite writing Deep In The The Iris at the same time as their last and more experimental album, are belting out perfect indie-pop on songs like Letting Go and Warm Like Summer. It’s almost as if some anti-commercial mentality has been dropped, as even words on difficult topics take flight on a soaring chorus that brings the trio into their own. Take the album standout Taste, for example. With its lines of “take me by the throat… spit all your hurt on me” and “I have these dreams of you laying it on me”, it’s a surprising ode to a relationship of consenting abuse and assented destruction, but weirdly one you can’t help but sing along with.
It’s also a pleasure to bask in songs like Blondie with its light-footed drum and bass backdrop, one in which Standell foxtrots over the beat and expresses herself with as much moxie and intensity as, rather fittingly, a Debbie Harry. It’s dynamite stuff, consistent throughout even as it throws in trip-hop or Saint Etienne electronica on Sore Eyes and Bunny Rose. What’s clear is that Deep In The Iris is a game-changer for Braids in so many ways, but the principal nature of that change remains in the title: this is a record completely unafraid to stare you right in the eye and leave its stencil for quite some time to come. Exceptional work.
Deep In The Iris by Braids can be ordered here.