There's something new about Braids. Since bandleader Raphaelle Standell-Preston shared a brave essay about how her experiences with sexual abuse informed a song called “Miniskirt,” you can't help but approach the Montreal group's compositions with ears freshly sensitive to that courage. As former CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi is legally dismissed of sexual assault charges, Canadians are reckoning with how the culture deals with abusers and survivors of sexual abuse. More than ever, musicians like Braids and statements like their new EP Companion are what the country needs to keep hope, and keep healing.
Listening to the project though, the futility of binding Braids to one event, niche, trauma, or sound becomes clear. The four songs were started during sessions for the band's 2015 album Deep In The Iris. “At the time they felt separate to the songs that made up DITI,” the band wrote in an email, “strong in their own right, but left as unknowns to a larger compositional work.” Companion is not a collection of orphan tracks: all four songs lean into the same progressions in songcraft and unbridled energy the band discovered on Deep In The Iris. A little more steely, perhaps, but Braids's range remains as wonderfully knotted as their name suggests. In their email, the band further expand on Companion's relationship to their previous work:
In August of last year, we had a small window of time at home, in Montreal. Having been on the road for a few months, we were eager to write again, and excited about the material we had put aside. In a focused burst of energy, we dug into a few ideas, trying to construct a home in which they could all live together. These four are the result of that process—a "companion" to the train of thought we started with DITI.
Listen to Braids's Companion EP below, followed by the powerful music video for “Companion” directed by Kevan Funk.