Review Summary: hey Sput user, you're still like family to me; no matter what you leave down there in the comments
Let’s begin at a distance, then: Hug of Thunder
has seen it all – every tectonic societal shift, every paradise and every tragedy has been a part of its purview. Every season, every reaction to every experience, every fleeting moment spent on top of the world is captured and distilled by these songs. Broken Social Scene are that band: a band that thinks in spectrums, that makes a point of filling the gaps left behind, a band that considers and creates everything.
My experiences with Broken Social Scene – temperamental or otherwise – always remain to make things bigger; more triumphant
. Like the objects in my car’s broken rear-view mirror, these looming pieces of music shake and swell, focus and unfocus; so obviously stitched together by a band that simply should not work
. There aren’t enough metaphors cobbled together in the English language to explain why something so vast, so patently spirited
, can push against its threadbare seams without spilling out over the ideas it stemmed from, but brevity can’t even begin to illustrate it either.
So, pithiness first. Hug of Thunder
will never exist solely unto you. It isn’t part of a dialogue and it sure as hell isn’t trapped in the same languid delirium that you (I) are (am). It is above us yet looking down empathetically. Towering, a celebration of nothing and yet, a far-reaching approximation of the human condition.
Of course, if you are skeptical of the ensemble’s attempts to bring everything and everyone together, holding hands on the same plane, the record materialises with Sol Luna
-- Sun and Moon -- the band extending their embrace around the cosmic details. It stays that way for 52 minutes – 15 members, 7 years, a million ideas; proliferating and rattling against each other with fervour and not a tangible destination in mind.
Have you noticed? You must have. I said I’d be succinct, but I couldn’t possibly organise my thoughts on this record neatly. I'm sorry.
Which, again, begs the question: How on Earth did the band do it? Halfway Home
, the lofty and indomitable thing that it is, feels touched by every personality that has passed through the revolving door of BSS members since their inception, and it stays standing. Staggering, maybe, but standing nonetheless. I think it’s because Hug of Thunder
is the product of unity, not hierarchy. Leaders are only “semi-leaders”, the process is a democratic one. Scene offshoots (a society in itself) return home to find that their old room has been left untouched out of fondness for their memory.
Altogether, all as it should be.
On the subject of home: such a vital sense of family means this record starts and ends in the same place. It runs through emotions like a breathless person wandering through an airport, capturing that very human dichotomy -- it’s exciting to see the world, but it’s just as exciting to see your family again. Please Take Me With You
waves bittersweet from the terminal and Stay Happy
is there waiting, weeks later, with a toothy grin and a welcome home sign.
And lo, even in moments of levity, there is that cogent spirit of communion. The title track, a sort of aesthetic counterpoint to Halfway Home
, has the entire collective gather providently around Leslie Feist (!!!) for a hushed recount of pointillistic nostalgia. Someone chimes in with a plodding bassline; others respond politely, reassuringly with a mosaic of ambient squeaks and squawks.
The point is, this thing isn't actually about nothing, it's about how togetherness is meant to be celebrated and about how there is always a song to accompany that celebration. There’s always a Mouth Guards of the Apocalypse
to celebrate genuine human connection, there’s always a Halfway Home
to carouse the overcoming of adversity, and there’s always this album to remind you of how fucking beautiful
music can be.