Forget the singles you may have already heard from Broken Social Scene’s long awaited new LP Forgiveness Rock Record. Don’t get me wrong, they are OK, but they don’t do this album justice. I’m talking about singles such as Texico Bitches and World Sick. They are fun, upbeat songs, but if you came to pick up Forgiveness Rock Record after hearing those singles, and peel back to the next layer of work on this album, you will be in for a great surprise. This is the classic BSS so many have come to know and love. If you are new to BSS, this is a great primer to get started with as well, and their most end to end accessible album. A perfect mix of ambient sounds, harmonies, and late 80s/early 90s alt rock influences like Sonic Youth, Pavement, and the Pixies. Broken Social Scene has always had the unique ability to rock hard while still somehow sounding chill and peaceful, or vice versa. I’ve been a long time fan, they put on an amazing live show, as I reviewed here.
You may already be familiar with some of the other work by BSS members. Broken Social Scene hails out of Canada and are a bit Steely Dan-ish in the sense that it’s typical the core founders (Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning) and regular musicians, are joined on albums and on stage with a long cast of talented characters. Though I’m never sure of their current touring lineup, regulars include Amy Millan and her amazingly smooth voice, also heard in the band Stars. Others include Emily Haines from Metric, Leslie Feist, Andrew Whiteman from Apostle of Hustle, and Jason Collett. But the band has always been held down by lead song writer/singer Kevin Drew, and bassist Brendan Canning. For me it’s Canning’s melodic bass lines that define the BSS sound more than anything else. He plays bass not for the sake of keeping the beat or the primary chords, but as it’s own important contributing instrument to the harmony lines, often times playing chords and bass and rarely simply on the down beat.
Forgiveness Rock Record, while incorporating the classic BSS combination of driving drums from Justin Peroff, melodic bass lines and layered, freestyle feel vocals, adds something new to the formula: synthesizers. They have broken them out occasionally in the past, but I don’t think they’ve ever been quite as prominent as this record. Listen to “Chase Scene” or “Sentimental X’s” for examples. The latter track by the way is one of the best they have ever done in my opinion. It’s classic Emily Haines along the same mantra like vibe that we’ve heard in the past in songs like “Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl.” The following Kevin Drew track “Sweetest Kill” hearkens back to the “Lover’s Spit” vibe, which also happened to be my favorite track I saw them do live. I point out comparisons in vibe not to insinuate that they are just doing the same old thing, but to show that they have not lost touch with what made them so appealing to people like me.
The other thing that has always amazed me about this band is that no matter how many musicians they add in, it never sounds muddled. There could be five or six guitars on stage or on a track at once, but each is doing something unique and complimentary. Combine that with an amazing drummer and you have pretty much The Giant Panther’s favorite indie band of all time. For you Boston fans, they are coming to The House Of Blues on Friday September 17 with The Sea and Cake, tix are only $25 (well $25 before all the Ticketmaster garbage fees), which is a great new venue where Avalon used to be. They really improved the sound quality throughout.
All in all I’m feeling this album was definitely worth the wait. In between their last official LP, they release several “solo” efforts, which were basically one of the prominent members collaborating with various other BSS members track to track. But this is Broken Social Scene back in full force, together, and it couldn’t sound better.
Download Forgiveness Rock Record here
Broken Social Scene on the web