Montreal indie trio Braids emerge from chrysalis and return with their most visceral dosage of synth-pop yet. Shadow Offering is characterized by its ebbs and flows, with each track a crescendo of sound and feeling that builds to a finality that often fades as fast as it’s found. Vocalist Raphaelle Standell-Preston shines and is, at times, soft as a whisper, while, at others, abrasive like battery acid. The instrumentals act in complement to the poetry of her vocals, with the drum-lines, synth beats and haunting piano melodies working together towards a single, harmonious purpose.
The themes are widespread, with songs like “Just Let Me”and “Ocean”, that capture the tribulations of relationships, or others, like “Snow Angel,”that reflect the paralyzed cries of someone at their wits end, unsure of how to move forward in a world so broken. “I wanna be a mother, but I shouldn’t bring in another,” Standell-Preston cries on the song. Uncertainty, in all its dastardly forms, reigns supreme.
“One foot in front of the other, then the other, that’s all,” Standell-Preston concludes on the album’s final song, “Note to Self.” Shadow Offering acts as exactly that, a confident yet vulnerable step forward for Braids, with a depth to each song that only plunges deeper upon every spin.