Braid – Closer to Closed EP

written by: August 22, 2011
Release Date: August 16, 2011


It’s been 13 years since Champaign, Illinois’ Braid released Frame & Canvas, an album that served simultaneously as quartet’s crowning achievement as well as its swan song. A 2004 reunion tour saw the group revisit its triumphs, but ultimately, it was nothing more than a victory lap. After seven years of silence, Braid returns with the four-song Closer To Closed EP, an effort comprising three new songs as well as a cover of singer/songwriter Jeff Hanson’s “You Are the Reason.”

Closer to Closed will certainly alienate fans who hoped the band would somehow rewrite “Capricorn,” but it feels like the place Braid would have ended up, had they stuck around for another decade. The interplay between guitarists/vocalists Bob Nanna and Chris Broach is as unique as it ever was, as they effortlessly meld angular riffs into something bouncy and borderline soothing.

Even though the group’s technicality was never in question, the vocal work on early records was characterized by off kilter approaches that worked only in the context of ’90s emo. On Closer To Closed, Nanna and Broach have streamlined their vocal styles, allowing for stunning performances without denigrating the raw emotion behind it. The Broach-lead opener “The Right Time” sees him trade in his desperate yelps and enthusiastic “yeah”s for pitch perfect execution backed by falsetto harmonies as it becomes the most accessible song in the band’s repertoire.

Braid’s impressive rhythm section made up of bassist Todd Bell and drummer Damon Atkinson proves to be just as strong as it was more than a decade ago.

Atkinson’s proficiency—as well as J. Robbins’ production—keeps the three-minute jam at the end of “Universe or Worse” from becoming grating, and his off-time fills give the song an air of danger—that its tightly wound melodies could come undone at any time.

After a lengthy recorded absence, Braid has not lost any of the charm that made it a standout act during its initial run. Instead, it has found a way to utilize its mid-’90s flares without merely rehashing them. Closer To Closed may not be as inspiring as the albums released during Braid’s heyday, but it suggests that the chemistry between the band members is as strong as it ever was.

Braid – Closer to Closed Tracklist:

  1. “The Right Time”
  2. “Do Over”
  3. “You Are the Reason” (Jaff Hanson Cover)
  4. “Universe or Worse”