Late-'90s emo heroes Braid return with their first record in almost two decades.
Present day. Fifteen year-old YOUNG COREY, fresh from the late ‘90s, walks in and takes a seat at the bar. The bartender gives 28-eight year-old OLDER COREY a look. The two Coreys size each other up.
YOUNG COREY: You’ve gained weight. And why are you dressed like a banker? Are you a banker now?
OLDER COREY: Check your haircut before you throw that shade, son. And I’m wearing a collared shirt. Plenty of grown adults wear collared shirts.
YOUNG COREY: You’re drinking? (He points to OLDER COREY’S Manhattan.) You sold out, bro. Straight-edge forever.
OLDER COREY: I definitely did. (Sips his drink.) No spoilers, but let me just say this to you: Thailand. 2013. You’ll be glad I picked up the habit.
YOUNG COREY: (Rolls his beautiful blue eyes.) Whatever. So, what are we doing here?
OLDER COREY: Braid put out a new album.
YOUNG COREY: No way! They broke up.
OLDER COREY: In the future, bands never break up. This new record, No Coast, is their first album in 16 years.
YOUNG COREY: Frame & Canvas is a classic. Yeah, it only came out just in 1998, but pure classic. Cool rhythms with all that stop-start stuff, great lyrics, one shout-y dude and one sing-y dude. So much smarter than most of the shit on the radio.
OLDER COREY: Yeah, it’s a good record. Important for that wave of emo—tinkering with tricky time signatures, Chris Broach’s yelps bouncing off of Bob Nanna’s chummy crooning. Smart pop music. The lyrics… I try not to listen to those so much these days. But you’re allowed. Crucial album for a lot of people your age and one of the last generation of bands to exist in an “underground” without a well-established internet music industry to point them out to potential fans. In that way, a Braid reunion record makes for a last-gasp phenomenon in the indie nostalgia business.
YOUNG COREY: Uh-huh. Is Braid punk, you think?
OLDER COREY: No. God, no. Just calm down about the punk thing. Enjoy the music you enjoy. You’ll be happier.
YOUNG COREY: Yeah, you seem really happy. So, anyway, we’re here to talk about No Coast? What, do you review music for MTV or something?
OLDER COREY: MTV today is exclusively devoted to a show where people from the internet trick sad people into thinking they are in love while millions of viewers at home hook themselves directly into their cable boxes to mainline schadenfreude into their veins. Carson Daly has 12 talk shows on twenty networks. It’s a different world. Look, we don’t have much time. You have school in the morning. Here, listen to the record, and we’ll talk.
YOUNG COREY puts the CD in his Discman. OLDER COREY wants to play it on vinyl, but settles for his iPod. They listen on separate headphones, nodding together in silence.
OLDER COREY: First track, “Bang”. Definitely a Braid song, I’ll say that. Nanna’s voice sounds purified with age, those guitars chime as beautifully as ever—toeing the line on fey earnestness, which they’ve always done with precision.
YOUNG COREY: Doesn’t really have the energy of “New Nathan Detroits” as an opener—or of any of Braid’s older songs. I don’t know, dude. Bob sounds like he’s almost asleep.
OLDER COREY: Oh, this bridge is nice. “Lay low, / Listen for the outcome” is a perfect Braid lyric—meaningless enough to allow you to attach any sort of meaning you’d like. Building momentum here.
YOUNG COREY: Yeah, but did he just scream “GIMME SOME!”?
OLDER COREY: That’s unfortunate.
YOUNG COREY: I feel like this is something that would’ve been buried in the middle of an older Braid record, but it’s out front here.
OLDER COREY: Okay, here’s a Chris Broach song, “East End Hollows”. This should pump us up.
YOUNG COREY: Listening, and I’ve got a question—how do you feel about Blink-182 these days?
OLDER COREY: You’ll go through a period in your early 20s where you have to pretend you don’t like them anymore, but I’m way past that. Blink forever. That being said, why the fuck does it sound like Tom DeLonge signed on to sing all of Broach’s lines?
YOUNG COREY: I’m more of a Mark Hoppus guy, anyway. But yeah, this is weird. None of the grit that used to sit in Broach’s throat—he needed that to provide a proper balance to Nanna’s polished vocals. Now he’s singing directly from his nostrils.
OLDER COREY: That’s right. And what’s Braid without Chris Broach?
YOUNG COREY: Hey Mercedes.
OLDER COREY: And that’s no good for anyone.
YOUNG COREY: Even worse on the title track, which otherwise plugs along nicely enough.
OLDER COREY: Broach’s shot at sounding stately when he sings a line like, “You’re the only thing that’s beautiful / That no one understands”—maybe he could carry that if he was shouting it like a teenager over some dissonant guitars, but this is like when someone’s blowing a bubble with supersweet gum and it pops right in your face.
YOUNG COREY: Also, it’s not even true—people don’t understand, like, the Northern Lights, and those are really pretty.
OLDER COREY: Someone understands those, but yeah, okay.
YOUNG COREY: I’m depressed.
OLDER COREY: At least that’s still romantic at your age. I ate a pint of Haagen-Dazs mint chip last night.
YOUNG COREY: The last three songs just went by, and I don’t remember a single thing about them.
OLDER COREY: “Pre Evergreen” is the best song here, though, and it’s on now.
YOUNG COREY: Palm-muting, some nicely nuanced vocals from Nanna—okay, I’m down.
OLDER COREY: This song actually builds and releases, like they remembered how to structure a rock song instead of letting it run out of air like a fart from an unknotted balloon.
YOUNG COREY: Oh, I love this bridge—staccato chords, a nice little reverb-heavy guitar hook, Nanna getting out of the way to let the band work.
OLDER COREY: Sucks that it just ends there without exploding into a high octane finish.
YOUNG COREY: You probably know something about that these days, hmm?
OLDER COREY: I know what you do at night when you think no one upstairs can hear you.
YOUNG COREY: “Light Crisis” isn’t bad.
OLDER COREY: No Coast isn’t bad. It’s just—what was it, again?
YOUNG COREY: Exactly.
OLDER COREY: Sort of like drinking a Coke Zero.
YOUNG COREY: What’s that?
OLDER COREY: Thanks for your help. Listen, in a few years, they’ll start selling pants that fit, like, every dude really well. Just buy them.
YOUNG COREY: Your hair does look really good.
OLDER COREY: One last thing—count of three, what’s the best band of all time? One, two, three.
YOUNG COREY: Fugazi.
OLDER COREY: Fugazi.
YOUNG COREY: And, scene.