Braid, Closer To Closed

Matthew Fritch

By Matthew Fritch

on 08.15.11 in Reviews

Closer To Closed


This four-song EP from Braid — the Champaign, Illinois, group’s first new material in 13 years — was intended for release on Record Store Day in April. Clearly, however, this is a band with little concern for deadlines. Whatever circumstances rallied the long-buried group to return to the studio with producer J. Robbins, Closer to Closed is not so much a howl from beyond the grave as a hand sticking up from the graveyard dirt, feeling its way around the old stomping grounds.

Feeling their way around the old stomping grounds

Opener “The Right Time,” sung by guitarist Chris Broach, is a “should she stay or should she go” song heavily tilted toward Very Emergency-era Promise Ring; the guitars twist and crunch around the Midwestern-affable vocals. The remainder of the tracks are voiced by the more-familiar frontman Bob Nanna, but the tone remains mostly muted in comparison to wiry, tense 1998 benchmark Frame & Canvas. The six-minute “Universe or Worse” is more of a percussive exercise than a rock song, while the stabbing, noisy guitars on “Do Over” lean more toward Superchunk’s pop/punk than Jawbox’s machine-shop rock. (Braid was endlessly compared to the latter band during its initial run.) Rounding out the EP is a cover of Jeff Hanson’s “You are the Reason”; the falsetto-voiced Hanson died of drug-related causes in 2009. In all, Closer to Closed is part tribute to a departed friend, part testing of the comeback waters and altogether more even-tempered than the first time around.