Oh the gods of Indie music have been kind to Canada, The Arcade Fire
, Death from Above 1979
, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
(the gods took this band away though). And there's also Broken Social Scene, receiving praise and popularity where ever they roam. Formed in 1999 by art-rockers Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, Broken Social Scene inflated from 2 to 17 members, including members from Metric
(including the sexy lead singers of both). So obviously, this band wasn't meant to be anything but simple. And of course after two albums, pre-order sales were high for their new album, Broken Social Scene
, after the underground acclaim of its predecessor You Forgot it in People
a smooth sailing, Indie rock underground hit. Does it live up to the hype" I couldn't give less of a crap about hype, hype almost made me listen to the Louis XIV
To put it in an appealing way, Broken Social Scene is a lot like The Arcade Fire, but less theatric and more abstract and experimental. But the better way to describe them, or this album, is a rain storm. Each instrument is like a raindrop, or the clanking and various noises made by one. Simple, but the accumulation of such noise creates a manically beautiful atmosphere. One instrument does not make a difference in Broken Social Scene
, there's no real instrument highlight, but each plays a small role to form a great song. Kind of like gathering many good actors and not focusing on one of them instead of one big-breasted bad one that's the centre for a movie. Boobies are nice, but they don't get the job done. The best example of this would be the album's opener Our faces Split the Coast in Half
, all the instruments accumulate and drop out throughout this jazzy song as the vocals drift along the layers of music. This plan does backfire sometimes, there's so much of what almost seems like a competition for one player to out shadow another on some songs. And when it rains for so long it just fades into the background. Drew and Canning are two talented musicians, it seems like sort of a waste for them to play such minor parts sometimes.
The music at times minimized to a 'standard' band, yet still maintains the idea of the music being big and ambitious. Windsurfing Nation
on vocals), Swimmers
(Emily Haines of Metric on vocals), Hotel
and Handjobs for the Holidays
are all examples, though still ambitious, move Broken Social Scene
into swing music like, acoustic music, driven by the highly inorganic drum beats. But the songs still keep the avant-garde, moody vibe of the album. Handjobs for the Holidays breaks the mold a bit, giving a less synthetic vibe as the instrumentation again gathers and swirls to make a beautiful outro.
The lyrics are the most puzzling thing about this album, sometimes so intangible yet sometimes revealing and self-indulgent. And sometimes one literally doesn't understand them because the vocals are buried underneath the music, a la My Bloody Valentine
. The album's closer Itís all Gonna Break
triumphs at showcasing what a brilliantly creative this and band is, the song manages to join the poppy Indie rock past of the band and the symphonic future. Going through jaunty pop (still maintaining dark, enigmatic lyrics) to celestial breaks to uplifting sections filled with luscious horn arrangements. The liner notes say 'Try to sound like Bob Seger on acid' for this song, so hey, you're in for a ride.
Well the whole disc is quite a ride, from the dynamic mini-symphonies to placid songs highlighting vocalist Kevin Drew's (one of the handful of vocalists on the album, the main one I suppose) voice and its somewhat unstable qualities. Broken Social Scene
is a progressively unconventional mess of an album, expanding every musical aspect of itself. It takes influences from swing music, folk, Indie pop and progressive rock to form an adventure of moods and feelings formed by the muddle of fuzzy guitars, trombones and various musicians of the Canadian music scene lending a hand to make the chaotic melodies. If someone didn't like Broken Social Scene before, I can assure him or her that different impressions of Broken Social Scene will be formed now. The producer of this album was obsessed with topping its predecessor You Forgot it in People. Did he succeed" It's like comparing, well, let's use the ever famous OK Computer
and Kid A Radiohead
comparison. They're too different, each great in their own ways. And whether people argue if Broken Social Scene
topped You Forgot it in People or not, it will remembered as a landmark album for Broken Social Scene, and for Canadian music for years to come. Broken Social Scene----------------> 4.5 stars