Audio Mixers: Damian Taylor; Braids.
Written during the time Braids made their contemplative third album, Deep in the Iris, Companion's four songs may be even more intimate than what came before them. The band leads with the EP's most cathartic song -- an unusual move, but a compelling one. "Companion" picks up where Deep in the Iris' unflinching autobiographical meditation on sexual abuse "Miniskirt" left off, with Raphaelle Standell-Preston addressing the stepbrother she was separated from when her abuse came to light. As she sings "It had nothing to do with you/How can I make that more clear?," synths that hover between mournful and soothing seem to seep into the listener, underscoring the song's perspective of looking back to move forward. "Companion" acts as a catalyst for the rest of the EP, which reflects not just the need for, but the inevitability of, moving on: "Joni"'s skipping beats feel all the freer because of the song's acceptance of the unknown. Companion turns more introspective on its second half, with "Trophies for Paradox"'s tale of seduction and disappointment highlighting Braids' flair for storytelling and wordplay and "Sweet World" offering something like hope within its swirl of moods. As on Deep in the Iris, the band gives the process of working through emotional states remarkable depth, and the compassion and resilience within Companion's songs reflect how much of a friend music can be during the hardest times. ~ Heather Phares