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Tuesday Tracks! Fragile fauna edition: Braids — "Glass Deers"

luke champion

Cover of Braids' debut full-length, Native Speaker

This week on Tuesday Tracks we head to Montreal for one of the city’s most talked-about new bands. Braids arrived in la belle provence by way of Calgary and—thanks to their incredible live shows—quickly began to develop a following. Now, with the release of their debut album Native Speaker those of us who have missed out on the experience can get a sense of what all the fuss is about.

For the uninitiated, Braids is a four-piece band that makes big, luscious, long songs that are really tough to categorize. They could be considered “art-rock” or “post-rock,” except they have such an established sense of melody that the songs are very, very listenable. It’s serene and lovely stuff that would be indulgent if it weren’t so damn good. But what makes it great is that even though it’s very pretty and all, there this nagging thing in the background, sitting just below the surface, a little hint of darkness. It’s that darkness that gives these songs their colour and no song combines those two elements better than this week’s track: “Glass Deers.”

The song opens quite sparsely and for the first two minutes remains wordless—just a slow build of angelic sirens and soft strings, the sound of light passing through prisms—until we’re first introduced to the voice of Raphaelle Standell-Preston, first as just hums, a choir of them and then, she speaks.

The lyrics in “Glass Deers” are mostly indistinguishable save for the stuttery chorus confessing, “I fucked up,” and a few other key lines here and there. The music does more than enough though to paint the scene. This is a song of self-reflection, self doubt, and regret. It’s about mistakes, the hollow, empty feeling you get in your chest when you know you’ve made them and the heightened senses that sometimes come with that. It’s also about purging those feelings.

For over eight minutes we’re brought up and down, listening to Standell-Preston’s solemn admission and then her manic catharsis. All the while with this lush sonic landscape that creates this vivid manifestation of divinity. And yes, the song definitely feels divine, but I don’t think it has anything to do with her confession because I don’t think Standell-Preston is asking for forgiveness. She sounds at first broken and then defiant, like part of her fucking up is maybe about accepting it, living with it and keeping it close, as a part of you. But then, that guilt becomes corrosive, leading to the hysteria that the song builds to. The song is at once bold, disobedient, delicate and remorseful and they all feel honest and appropriate. It’s complicated being a human being, we’re fragile creatures—like Glass Deers.

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