Review Summary: A fantastically complex little pop album.
I went into Broken Social Scene’s “You Forgot It in People”. After hearing endless praise of the Toronto band’s second album, I was prepared for a fantastic disc. Yet, I felt underwhelmed. When the final notes of “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart” faded out I was left wondering what all the hype was about, what so many reviews had gone on about, what I was missing. I gave it a few more spins, and eventually decided that this album just was not for me.
And yet, I kept coming back. Something brought me back, time and time again. I wanted to dig in to the disc, unravel it’s layers, learn the melodies. And somewhere along the line, it clicked. Somewhere within the constant, slightly frustrating, listens, I got the hype. At some point I realized that this is a fantastic album.
So, what exactly is Broken Social Scene? It’s hard to pin down. A Toronto act of fluctuating number, Broken Social Scene brings together several fairly well known indie musicians under one roof in the pursuit of great pop music. There are constants in the band, such as founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, but the line-up changes frequently to accommodate for each song. This tactic works wonderfully, stopping things from getting stale and bringing an individuality to each track.
Even without the guest stars, though, the songs themselves easily stand on their own. Hooks and melody abound over the course of “You Forgot It In People”s 13 tracks, with different styles being applied to each to keep things interesting. The highlight of the disk is the Feist featuring “Almost Crimes”, a distorted slice of guitar-pop with melody to spare. Feist’s vocals bring a fantastic edge to the proceedings, harmonizing perfectly with Kevin Drew and standing out as one of the best performances on the album.
Another highlight is the track directly following it. Called “Looks Just Like The Sun”, it’s a relaxing, airy pop ballad with fantastic production aiding the songs melancholy atmosphere. I could go on about each of the albums great tracks, but to be honest there are no really bad songs here. There are certainly lesser tracks, such as “Late Nineties Bedroom Rock For The Missionaries” and “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart”, but nothing really bad. Even when the songs threaten to get boring, something interesting happens in the mix to keep them afloat.
And that is, in the end, probably the bands greatest strength. They constantly keep things interesting, layering on the orchestration without ever getting too busy. The sheer number of instruments used here is astounding, even more so when you look through the liner notes and find out exactly what’s happening in each track. There were 15 musicians involved in the recording of this album, many playing multiple instruments, and it shows. At its best, “You Forgot It In People” condenses orchestra sized instrumentation into pop song structure seamlessly, creating a fantastically complex and wonderfully catchy mash up of styles.
Fortunately this happens more often than not, and the end result is an absolutely fantastic album. It certainly takes time to grow, but once the album clicks, it is an absolutely incredible piece of work. So try it out. It definitely lives up to the hype.