You’ll be tempted to turn off Euphoric Recall halfway through the first song. The fifth studio album by Montreal pop experimentalists Braids begins with an inauspicious flashback to Shadow Offering lowlight “Snow Angel”—the same goofy rap cadence, the same stale #ResistanceTwitter platitudes. Raphaelle Standell-Preston actually utters the words “orange man,” leaving you barely any time to recover before rhyming “Dems and Hollywood stars” with “suckin’ blood and pluckin’ newborns: kid farms.” Wait out these insufferable opening minutes, though, and the strings rise up, the drums come in, and Standell-Preston’s voice spills from stilted talk-rap into her trademark operatic float. It is, in music, that moment when you set your phone on the nightstand, screen down, and turn to your partner in bed. It’s just lovely.
And so, for the most part, is the rest of Euphoric Recall. Standell-Preston recorded this album in the throes of new love, which explains why the lyrical content is about as substantial as angel food cake. One song likens a lover to “a little perfect Golden Retriever” with “pretty star eyes.” The grit and gloom of Shadow Offering is nowhere, except those first ugly minutes. Everywhere else, the band is in fine, focused form, buttressing their synths with a string ensemble. In critical moments, the cello leaps in, low, to lend some heft to the album’s featherlight, honeymoon feel.
Standell-Preston’s meditative delivery grounds these songs, even in the electric crackle of new relationship energy. She repeats certain words and phrases, rolling them around in her mouth to refine them: sweet–ness, sweet–ness; cake, cake, cake. The album’s most mature and fully realized song, the late-night dream-pop ballad “Lucky Star,” rests on the repetition of, “I miss you all the time/Even with you.” Standell-Preston sings like someone who’s unafraid to look stupid by saying “I love you” too soon: She hasn’t been in it long, but she is all in. – Pitchfork