For three or four years, Bob Nanna hadn’t heard much from his former Braid bandmate Chris Broach—not since the band’s brief reunion in 2004, at least. When Broach moved to Chicago, though, it took no time before he and Nanna reconnected. “Because we were spending so much time together, we were talking a lot,” Nanna says. “And it was right around the time of Record Store Day, so I mentioned to Chris, ‘You know, for Record Store Day next year, Braid should put out a seven-inch with new songs.’” The resulting record, Closer to Closed, wasn’t ready in time for Record Store Day, so Polyvinyl Records released it as a proper EP in 2011. Though tighter and cleaner and more controlled than Braid’s 1998’s swan song Frame & Canvas, the four songs on Closer to Closed successfully pick up where the band collapsed from exhaustion twelve years prior. And there are stylistic elements—the guitars on “The Right Time”, which wiggle and worm their way through the core Broach’s crisp vocals; the spastic pop of drummer Damon Atkinson’s snare as it further shatters already jagged chords in “Do Over”; or the way Todd Bell’s bass bubbles like tar in time with the kick during “Universe or Worse”—that not only recapture emo’s sum and substance, which they sculpted in the mid-1990s, but seem to build boldly upon it.
Though Braid is returning to music—that’s right, returning—at a time when emo is is enjoying both a re-appropriation and revival, the band won’t hop back onto the bandwagon they once piloted. As they write songs for a new record, Nanna and Broach aim their songwriting the same direction at which they’ve always aimed: ahead of themselves. “It’s always where we’re going and not where we’ve been,” Broach concludes. “I always want to accomplish something different, I always want to grow. I kind of have an idea of where it’s heading with Braid and what kind of stuff we’re doing, but I also have no idea.” And, for Nanna and Broach, this potential is the most exciting part.