What may seem a bit self-indulgent to naysayers is actually well worth praise. Braid's sound is distinct and fresh (but will definitely be copped by more than a few bands in the next five to 10 years) while retaining a sense of familiarity. Put in chronological order, a great deal of the enjoyment of Movie Music is the opportunity to watch Braid grow from its origins, writing dense, tightly wired, hardcore-ish songs full of sweaty, desperate screams into a much more melodic state that still packs every bit of the original complicity into a much more composed package. Bob Nanna's vocals are the centerpiece of every song; from almost annoying head-cold congestion to a beautifully broken scream, the poetry of his lyrics sit atop a bed of stunning guitar interplay and an unpredictable but amazing rhythm section make for some shining moments of clarity and dim despair.
On songs such as "What a Wonderful Puzzle," Braid showcases its melodic jones alongside a tendency to completely fill a space with a winding guitar part. The jarring but soothing changes of "First Day Back" and "Forever Got Shorter" mixed with the intimate diary writings of Nanna's lyrics are enough to put a smile on your face but still wring your heart dry. Throw into the fray some amusing covers (Billy Joel, The Smiths, Pixies, and Burt Bacharach) and you've got a complete collection of diverse recordings of a sincere, genuine band that, if nothing else, stayed hungry, challenging itself to write the most expressive, complex songs it could. Movie Music is the fantastic result of endless hours spent in a cramped van on the highways of the U.S., playing in front of anyone who would listen. Cinematic indeed.