Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two

10. Braids
(Flemish Eye)

Since Native Speaker, their Polaris-nominated debut, Braids have been through a significant musical evolution. The Calgarian ex-pats downsized to a three-piece, collaborated on an EP with UK techno/electronica producer Max Cooper and, this past Summer, released In Kind//Amends an EP whose electronic sound turned out to be a reliable sign of things to come.

Not only is Flourish//Perish heavier on the synths and composed in Ableton (the electronic producer's software du jour), but throughout the album you can hear the influence of classic Warp IDM-via-Radiohead. Shaking off the often heavy-handed Animal Collective influence that dominated Native Speaker, here, singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston instead channelled influences more suited to her natural voice such as Björk and Bat For Lashes.

Incorporating electronic influences into your sound may be de rigueur, but Braids have approached it from a unquestionably genuine angle — listen to the awesome vocal treatment on "Amends" for example, or the Plaid-like palette of "Juniper" — and it feels like they have found their sound. Flourish//Perish is an intimate and engrossing record, and one that integrates its newfound influences cohesively, as opposed to some artists who appear to have needlessly grafted it on to their sound like a third arm in the centre of their chest. (Vincent Pollard)