It’s hard to talk about reunion records, especially reunion records from bands you really love. Nothing will ever be as good as it used to be. Nostalgia is like that. I was pretty stoked about Braid getting back together. I was slightly less stoked when I heard Closer To Closed. This isn’t to say that it was a bad EP or anything. In fact, it was pretty damn good. It just didn’t line up with what I wanted it to be. That’s why No Coast, Braid’s first full length in 16 years, is such a daunting listen.
Braid always seemed to get more accessible as time went on. The difference between Frankie Welfare Boy Age Five and Frame And Canvas was not negligible. They developed a bit more of a pop sensibility in lieu of a post-hardcore, Fugazi aping. No Coast is a further step in that direction. It’s a further reigned in version of Braid. It’s clear that the years spent in other bands have changed their approach to things. The songs are what matter though, and the songs here are great.
Songs like “No Coast” and “Many Enemies” are catchy from front to back. They are built around some great hooks and melodies. “Pre Evergreen” brings the band back to their classic mid-tempo sound. They’ve heavily worked in that style on past releases, and it’s still working here. It’s the combination of different styles that make No Coast work so well. You can go from a mid-tempo song to a fast, more punk number without the record getting disjointed. “Pre Evergreen” going into “Put Some Wings On That Kid” is a perfect example of this. It does help that the songs remain true to the overall Braid sound.
There isn’t much that needs to be said about Braid though. They’re a band with a legacy. There is going to be a big to-do in the music press about Braid coming back and reclaiming something from all these current emo bands. That’s all bullshit hype. While No Coast is very much a genre record, it doesn’t play like a record trying to reclaim past glory. It plays like a record made by a band that really cares about what they’re doing now.
What matters is that No Coast is absolutely the kind of record Braid should have made. It’s a record that stands on its own, but it still has a lineage. It’s a record that will appeal to longtime followers, and it’s accessible enough to showcase the band to younger listeners who aren’t too familiar with them.
Those people exist, right?