Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene

The jangly guitars, the sex-laced lyrics and the rather large membership makes Broken Social Scene more like a cult or lifestyle, than a rock band. And their 2005 self-titled third album does a great job of summing up the entire A&C culture.

Broken Social Scene isn’t really the genius of any one individual, but more of a collaborative work of many, though since they were originally formed by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, you could categorize them as the “leads” of the group. They created their own label, Arts & Crafts which is now a monster indie label producing amazing groups like Stars, Los Campensinos!, Feist and Jason Collett, among others.

Broken Social Scene really seemed to find themselves on their second album, the sensational You Forgot it in People, which really brought them into the limelight with super hit ‘Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl’ a beautiful pop song that captured the beauty of Emily Haines’ and Feist’s voices.

Their third album however is perhaps, their true magnum opus. It just displays such a perfect mix of sheer power and also goofs off and jerks around with songs like ‘Handjobs For the Holidays’ and ‘Finish Your Collapse and Stay For Breakast’.

The album begins with an instrumental piece, ‘Our Faces Split the Coast in Half’ which is kind of just a jazzy little number with some flavor but just kind of builds into the second song, which I really consider the true opener of the record.

This aforementioned track is ‘Ibi Dreams of Pavement (a Better Day)’ which rips itself open with a buckshot guitar bang that carries on for a while into Kevin Drew’s screeching vocals howling “You weren’t there” with such a snarl that the angst becomes underplayed and it comes off as totally endearing. Lyrically, and instrumentally the song comes together beautifully.

It leads into ‘7/14 (Shoreline)’ which is a more pop-oriented song, also the first to feature female vocals somewhat on the album, though Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew are both present here as well. Feist makes her first appearance on the album here, displaying her wonderful vocals.

‘Finish Your Collapse and Stay For Breakfast’ comes next, a short instrumental piece pretty and not really particularly annunciated. But it’s presence is useful serving as a cool-down from the action-pact ‘7/14’ and a transitional piece really.

‘Major Label Debut’ is a sad track with angsty lyrics and great instrumentation. It might be my least favorite track on the record, but that’s not saying much, the least favorite among greats. It’s a little long is its problem, it goes on about two minutes longer than it needs to. But still overall, a great song.

‘Fire Eye’d Boy’ is the big hit single on the album, and rightfully so, it’s an absolutely stunning song with a carrying beat, great guitar work and catchy-ass lyrics. It’s not an overly deep song, but it’s so fun and sensible that you’ll find yourself singing along in no time. ‘Windsurfing Nation’ comes next, a song led by Feist with Kevin Drew and others on back up vocals. It’s a pretty simple song, but there’s nothing about it. It makes for great background. It doesn’t have the epic sweeping power of some of the tracks on the record but there’s nothing bad about it either.

‘Swimmers’ is an Emily Haines track, beautiful and simple. If you’ve heard any quirky indie love song in the last decade, you will recognize the lyrics and vocals of this track. . . It’s pretty generic in that regard, but to its credit; it came out before all those other tracks, so it was early in the trend.

The next track is ‘Hotel’, a pretty little number with innuendoes many in the lyrics, and sexuality very prominently displayed in the vocals. It’s probably among the weaker tracks on the album if you compared them, but is still stronger than some of the best songs on other albums, so it’s hard to call it a “weak” track.

‘Handjobs For the Holidays’ . . . I have to admit, just the song title always gets a smile out of me, it’s a nice title. It’s Brendan Canning’s strongest track on the album, really putting him in the spotlight momentarily and showing off his talents as a frontman. The track immediately following, ‘Superconnected’ is another Brendan Canning song, though Kevin Drew and others voices are heard as well, it’s mainly a Canning track. It has one of the best beats ever, and what makes it even more impressive is that it was written on the spot as it was recorded, which is pretty fucking crazy if you listen to the song with that in mind.

‘Bandwidth’ comes next and is one of the quieter songs on the album. Emily Haines sings back up with Kevin Drew up on lead, but the most noteworthy performance on the song is Ohad Benchetrit on slide guitar. Ohad is from 'Do Make Say Think', the post-rock giants, and his presence here is not to be ignored, it’s a great performance, subtle but pretty.

‘Tremoloa Debut’ is a short one minute by David Newfield and too short to really judge one way or the other. Its presence serves more as an intermission between ‘Bandwidth’ and the enormous closing track.

The final track is ‘It’s All Gonna Break’ which is probably one of the best closing tracks of all time. It’s 10 minutes of epic builds and breaks and Kevin Drew’s howls of pain and sexual torment is so real and pretty that it stands out as the masterpiece of the album and perhaps, the bands career. Justin Peroff’s drum playing is at its finest here and is absolutely flawless. But it is Kevin Drew’s pure musical presence that makes the track so powerful. “Why are you always fucking ghosts?” He howls on and on through the song. It’s really an ode to a former love, coming to an understanding with the present and the past and gazing hopefully forward to a better tomorrow, and it is portrayed with such excellence and raw energy that it cannot be denied.

Overall Broken Social Scene’s third album has soul and balls, and is a near perfect work with only a few minor flaws.


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