Broken Social Scene: Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene seem to made up of about 1000 people, and on some of the songs on here it sounds like they’re all playing at once. In different keys, and almost different tunes. It’s a chaotic album full of sounds, but it’s beautifully put together and once you can crack through the various layers and different harmonies you find a beautiful human celebration of life and love and friendship and sex. Take the best parts out of Sonic Youth, The Go! Team, The Memphis Horns, and Arcade Fire and you’ve nearly got the style of Broken Social Scene.
Compared to their previous (‘breakthrough’) album, parts of this one are all over the place. Melodies are hidden by wailing feedback or screeching guitars. Distorted keyboards are recorded over the main tune but rather than sounding oppressive or even offensive it sounds stunning and beautiful. It’s also very definite. Its no error or fluke, it’s been purposefully recorded that way and it works like a charm. Loads of reviewers criticised the recording when BSS was released, calling it arrogant or self indulgent but for me it’s a stroke of genius. When the sounds build up into a wash of noise, and the crescendo peaks into a mess, these stunning horns come marching through the fog and triumphantly announce that life is actually ok! You can’t help but smile, its one of those moments. And this album is full of those moments. Stand up and sing from the top of your lungs moments.
Other songs are recorded in a way that takes BSS out of their comfort zone. They stop being an Indie Rock band and try to become a pop or a hip hop act (in the sleeve notes they show lists of ‘things to do’ to finish the songs, stuff like “record bass” “thank Leslie for her lungs” and “sound less like a Rock Band”). Again, this works really well and maybe it’s the amount of thought that’s gone into this album which makes it so special.
When you listen to BSS it sounds like a summer’s day. It sounds like you’ve been invited to the best BBQ in the world with the coolest people in the world, and the worlds best looking Girl has just handed you a burger. Your sitting in the sun and the joint’s being passed and the beer is cold. But that gives the impression that it’s insular and cliquey. That it’s a ‘scenester’ record and if you’re not Cool enough, you can’t come in. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s very much a celebration inviting everyone to join in and dance and sing and bang drums and hug and bounce and laugh and dance. Its really one of the most positive albums I’ve heard, it fills you with life. You get the impression that BSS are Hippies at heart and want to drive across the country in a big old hippy van with a bubble machine on top giving people in Small Towns hugs and good Acid.
The final track ends in the most wonderful way. A true fanfare of Horns and Guitars and feedback and it leaves you stunned. Your whole body feels exhausted by it, but you can’t wait to go back to the beginning and start the party again.