Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene


4.5
superb

Review

by uman32 USER (2 Reviews)
March 17th, 2021 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Controlled chaos

Staring into Jupiter's Red Spot (on the internet of course) can have a hypnotizing effect. The eye-shaped mass on the planet's surface can look like a peaceful swirl, just swimming along the gas giant. Its movement, a relaxing series of spirals. Before you do your research and realize it's a raging storm, the size of multiple Earths.

Broken Social Scene specializes in this type of contrast of the senses, loose song structures that threaten to (and sometimes do) transition into intimate, chaotic storms - a clashing and melding of musical personalities and styles that is transfixing. Although they started out as an ambient project between Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew, the band was always connected to the larger Toronto music scene it would come to represent. With many of their band members going to the same arts high school or playing in other bands together, the expansive nature of their lineup feels inevitable. At its best, their work is an intensely personal collage, a patchwork of sounds that feel stranger and bigger when put together.

And on their self-titled, they are at their best. After the beautiful opener Our Faces Split The Coast in Half threatens to burst at the seams, Ibi Dreams of Pavement kicks in, and the band sounds like they can't wait to start the album. Each instrument tries to race ahead of the other, before settling into a groove for Kevin Drew to yell/sing/chant over. His words feels ritualistic, mantras repeated not because they are part of the chorus but because he really needs you to know them, to memorize and repeat them to yourself. Until his voice checks, to let Amy Milan's stunning vocals and the band's instrumental crescendo end the song.

Strapping you in after Ibi, the album wastes no time moving to 7/4 (Shoreline) - its slick drum line punctuating the beginning of the song. Feist's voice commands attention here, sharing space with the guitar chucking along at the titular time signature, before joining all the band's voices in a battle for sonic territory that you never want to end.

What is remarkable about the self-titled, and what makes the album friendly to repeated listens, is the band's understanding of space, the same understanding that (among other things) makes their previous album You Forgot It In People a classic. The whole album has a loose, naturalistic quality to it, and the band is intimately aware of when to give the listener room to breathe, with songs like Major Label Debut or Hotel. Rather than restrict themselves to a single theme or style, the group unleashes their collective creative force on the canvas of the album, allowing the songs to evoke a diverse set of moods, from quiet longing to triumphant self-awareness, an all encompassing fullness that reflects the richness of life experience each band member brings to the group.

Coming near the midpoint of the album, Swimmers is one of the standout songs of the band's discography. Combining Emily Haines's loose, intimate vocal delivery with a full ensemble backing, each section of the band plays along effortlessly, with every instrument taking a casual turn. The band accomplishes the magic trick of creating a hyper-specific connection with the listener, while maintaining a large, varied sound that all the combined effort of the band members could muster. It repeats that trick again on Superconnected, this time desperately and with no time to lose. The song churns with an indefatigable aura that captures all the contradictory aspects of Broken Social Scene. Dealing with the loss of a loved one, the piece shares the strange propulsive energy that can take over someone grieving. Here, the collective finally becomes one, and cries out to be understood and to be heard. For you to join them and unselfconsciously share in their feeling together.

A particular standout live, the closer Its All Gonna Break is a microcosm of the album. A behemoth of a song that refuses to end (in a good way), it always has one more thing to say, one more transition to make. You begin to live in the song, and by the time that it does end a part of you might have gone with it, waiting to return back on your next visit to the album.


user ratings (632)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
robertsona STAFF (4)
Whether or not it's as good as You Forgot it in People can be easily debated, but Broken Social Scen...

pulseczar (4.5)
...



Comments:Add a Comment 
hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2021


1158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, album is great. Vividly remember buying this on CD back when it came out and listening to it nonstop.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2021


34827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Beautiful words and beautiful beautiful record. Absolutely adore this one, and agree with most of your assessment

Never saw Swimmers as much of a highlight, but can't knock them zany daydream vibes. Love

Digging: Xiu Xiu - OH NO

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2021


44963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

WE ARE BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE AND WE ARE HERE TO MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT DEATH AND GET SAD AND STUFF. ONE TWO THREE FOUR

Digging: Brockhampton - Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2021


34827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

lmao epic content

on the spectrum of bread makes u fat to why are you always fucking ghosts, where do you land row?

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 18th 2021


44963 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

bread makes you fat is one of my all-time favourite line deliveries in cinema so yeah



why are you always fucking ghosts is weirdly affecting considering how goofy it looks on paper tho. I mean it's no PARK THAT CAR DROP THAT PHONE SLEEP ON THE FLOOR DREAM ABOUT ME

fogza
March 18th 2021


1215 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I always liked the chilled duality of Swimmers.

Digging: The Great Yawn - The Waves? The Tide and The Moon

bloc
March 18th 2021


65208 Comments


Not as good as You Forgot but still really good album

Digging: Chaka Khan - What 'Cha Gonna Do for Me

SandwichBubble
March 18th 2021


12684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still think this one's my favorite of theirs.

It's definitely got a couple of their best songs, that's for sure.

Demon of the Fall
March 18th 2021


19071 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I’d probably like this more now than in my youth. Maybe.

Digging: Unwound - Challenge For a Civilized Society

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2021


1158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

“Not as good as You Forgot but still really good album”



If Windsurfing Nation were cut, this would be about equal imo.

bigguytoo9
March 18th 2021


988 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Bought this the week it came out on CD and I still love it.

Observer
Emeritus
March 20th 2021


8950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Really cool, natural flowing album. Always thought this was their best

SublimeSound
March 22nd 2021


28 Comments


Excellent review - putting this one on tonight.



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