“Sounds like pop-rock” claims my 10 year old nephew upon hearing the first Braid album in 16 years. “It’s a bit pop-rock isn’t it? Kinda like Blink-182?” states my 31 year old girlfriend in response to the whippsnapper’s judgements. Do you know what, they’re almost right. Pop-rock for me is perhaps an easy pigeon hole for these newly reformed 90’s dudes to be placed in but nevertheless it’s a fair summation of ‘No Coast’.
Braid began life in 1993, when band members Chris Broach (guitars/vocals), Bob Nanna (guitar/vocals), Todd Bell (bass) and Damon Atkinson (drums) released a whole host of 7”’s and full length albums. ’98 saw the four piece play an unbelievable 200 shows and produce the seminal ‘Frame and Canvas’. Then ’99 struck and the unit disbanded, until 2010 when, like most groups from back in the day, they got back in the saddle to perform ‘Frame and Canvas’ in full. This burst of activity splurged out in a creative ooze that then forged the band’s first album in over a decade and a half, ‘No Coast’.
With any reforming band it’s too easy to get swept up in the hubbub of a reunion such as this and with that in mind, ‘No Coast’ is fairly unremarkable album. For a group that’s labelled as either post-hardcore, indie-rock or emo, there’s little on offer here that would punctuate these shifting dynamics. Ostensibly, the LP feels dense, there’s a lack of groove or tempered tempo changes. Plus the two vocalists Broach and Nanna have the combined voice of any college rock band that’s come before or after. Although, ‘No Coast’ has the occasional glimmer of promise; ‘Put Some Wings On That Kid’ has a crunching, upbeat bounce, while ‘Many Enemies’ has a trilling guitar riff and a rolling drum lick that bristles with a slacker urgency, however as a full body of work, Braid’s first offering in some time is something of an inoffensive non-entity. It would be too easy to pan the album but it’s not an album to detest nor is it a record to grip you heart, it’s somewhere in-between…it’s ok.
Call it pop-rock, call it post-hardcore, call it whatever you want, ‘No Coast’s title speaks for its self – it’s no day at the beach.
Word and Thoughts of Adam Williams