Broken Social Scene's last album, You Forgot It In People, blew my mind the first time I heard it. Like Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or Radiohead's OK Computer, it is one of those albums that just doesn't sound right unless you listen to the whole thing in one sitting. The same way that "Exit Music (For A Film)" doesn't sound right unless it's followed immediately afterward by "Let Down", "Almost Crimes" sounds like its missing something if it's not transitioned into directly after "Stars And Sons". When You Forgot It In People was released, Arts & Crafts was still relatively unknown in the states, and to be honest, the people that should have been ALL OVER the record from the beginning (specialty radio), never fully caught on to this underground masterpiece that a year later would top 100,000 in sales and help ignite a Canadian music revolution in US, opening the door for Stars, Metric, the Dears and a score of other insanely talented young Canadian bands. With the release of their latest, self-titled album, Broken Social Scene are no longer the unknown, underground, mini music community writing and recording purely for the fun and satisfaction it gave them. Their little community is getting stretched further and further apart as each member's individual success continues to grow. Leslie Feist is now signed to Interscope Records and released the critically acclaimed album, Let It Die. Earlier this year, Stars released one of the most beautiful and passionate albums of the last decade, toured extensively and are now finding themselves on the next OC mix. Apostle Of Hustle released a brand new album and toured. Metric spent the majority of the year recording their own sophomore album, the recently released Live It Out, and Jason Collett recorded and released his sophomore album, Idols Of Exile, in his native Canada (set for release in the US in '06). All of those bands and solo artists, among others, are contributing members of Broken Social Scene and each provide an important piece of the music jig saw that is a Broken Social Scene recording. Tight schedules, drama, pressure, and major label interest were all factors that the members of BSS had never really faced before and any one of them has the potential to rip a band apart. Thankfully, Broken Social Scene didn't just make it through in one piece, they have taken another giant step forward... together.
The giant, layered, so thick you have to eat it with a spoon, sound that was a staple of Broken Social Scene's past efforts remains on their new release. Like their last effort, Broken Social Scene begins with an instrumental jam that sets the stage for the rest of the record. Less sweet and charming, much of the self-titled new release is more aggressive and intense than You Forgot It In People, but the constant ascending and descending, the build up of tension and the release of tension, still abounds. "Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day)" is filled with swirling horns, cymbal explosions and pounding drums and seems to pack so many instruments and vocals into the space allotted that it almost spills out onto the floor. The Feist-sung "7/4 (Shoreline)" is a live favorite that the band has been playing out for some time, though the intricacies of the song that are lost in the band's monstrous live shows appear with clarity and make it feel new again on the studio version. The humorously titled "Major Label Debut" talks about life as a major label artist, complete with guest list spots, passport signings and living like you have a curfew, with a repeating chorus that says - "I'm all hooked up". The chilled out, mellow vibe of that song is quickly supplemented with the driving, up-tempo beats of "Fire Eye'd Boy". Electronic elements are incorporated on "Windsurfing Nation", as are the talents of Canadian hip-hop architect K-OS, perfectly completing the dance floor-ready rocker that's begging to be remixed.
Broken Social Scene have become a force to be reckoned with and this record proves it. We can only hope that as each of their other projects continue to rise in popularity, the members of Broken Social Scene will maintain a pact to join forces every couple of years to let their collective genius manifest itself into a cohesive collection of songs for the masses. For now, rejoice knowing that Broken Social Scene are alive and well and as innovative and passionate as ever.
Broken Social Scene
Arts & Crafts