Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Braid - 'Closer to Closed'

The last few years have seen a creative resurgence from ’90s emo icons. Sunny Day Real Estate got back together, while luminaries like Blake Schwarzenbach and Davey von Bohlen continued to release high quality music with new groups forgetters and Maritime, respectively. Sure, there’s a touch of nostalgia involved, but some of these artists are still creating new works and fans are being rewarded.

But they can’t all be winners, and such is the case with Braid’s pseudo-comeback EP Closer to Closed. Then again, Braid never really went away much as it morphed into a new band, Hey Mercedes. Now, I loves me Braid something fierce. Frame & Canvas is one of my favorite albums. Hey Mercedes, however, does not occupy any space in my music collection. Rather, HM exists to remind me that Braid ultimately went through a name change that preserved its legacy and dumped a whole lot of mediocre emo tunes on a lesser brand.

While Closer to Closed still nails Braid’s style (constant tempo changes; bouncing similar sounding words off each other, per the album title), it’s big drop in quality, even if it does rope in all the original players and producer J. Robbins (ex-Jawbox/Burning Airlines/Government Issue). Braid circa 2011 is spit-shined mall emo-pop. It’s way too clean and way too much like a lot of the Hot Topic-loving band’s that ripped off Braid over the last decade.

Of course, when I think emo, I think youth, and there’s a part of me that wonders if I’m just outside of Braid’s demographic now, that nostalgia has cut me off from those formative years. But then I remember Schwarzenbach and von Bohlen, and how far they’ve come since Jawbreaker and The Promise Ring, it becomes clear: Closer to Closed is a clunker.

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