Thursday, June 25, 2015

NY Times reviews 'Deep in the Iris'

Wonderful review from The New York Times:

Everything in ostensibly polite Western society is conspiring to provoke Raphaelle Standell, but she won’t let that happen. The lyrics she writes as the frontwoman of the Canadian band Braids are fragile but determined, the product of disappointment and abuse but a blueprint for navigating those horrors. “Deep in the Iris” (Arbutus), the third full-length Braids album, is characteristically excellent, but in more provocative fashion than before. In the past, the band — which also features the nimble multi-instrumentalists Austin Tufts and Taylor Smith — leaned on skittish abstraction, but this album is a bolder affair. In places it’s almost neo-soul in its warmth, though Braids achieves that luster with much chillier inputs. And “Bunny Rose” and “Taste” sound like cousins of AlunaGeorge’s 1990s-inflected club-soul. Throughout, Ms. Standell is more relaxed as a singer, easing into softness even as her subject matter is strikingly bleak. On “Happy When,” she uses her phone to counter her loneliness, and on “Sore Eyes,” her computer is both a reprieve and a black hole: “Watched some porn/And surfed till my eyes got sore again/Now I’m feeling gross and choked.” The most vivid dread here is on “Miniskirt,” which touches on familial abuse, street harassment and slut-shaming. Ms. Standell’s wounds are her armor here. “My little mini skirt/Think you can have it,” she sings, then rejoinders, “My little mini skirt/It’s mine all mine.”

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