Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Broken Social Scene: Forgiveness Rock Record

The other Canadian supergroup released Forgiveness Rock Record (FRR) on the same day as The New Pornographers put out Toghether (perhaps a bizzaro-Canadian version of the 50 Cent vs. Kanye battle?).  I'm not sure about the sales figures of the respective albums (my money would be on TNP), but as far as brilliance, the nod goes -- rather easily -- to Broken Social Scene (BSS).

I'd never been much of a BSS fan.  My brother-in-law introduced me to the band back in '05, so I picked up their self-titled double-disc album, but I could only get into about half the tracks (skipping the other half; the same holds true for You Forgot It In People).  FRR, however, doesn't have a throwaway track; pretty much every other song is a favorite and there is no skipping involved (and that's without much involvement from Leslie Feist).  Of the album's thirteen tracks, I rated seven of them as four- or five-star tracks.

While they still have jam-band tendencies, it never seems self-indulgent or over-fanciful (as one critic claims).  In fact, some of the instrumental songs are downright awesome (esp. "Meet Me in the Basement").  As its opening and closing track show, BSS doesn't shy away from grandiose compositions (and long fade-ins), best illustrated by the record's intro track, "World Sick" (am I allowed to bob my head to a song set in "a minefield of wounded affection"?).

The sound of FRR is all over the map, but that isn't to say that it's disjointed; far from it, in fact.  I didn't blink twice when the electronic beats and sexy female vocals of "All to All" gave way to the guitar-cum-horns sound of "Art House Director."  BSS weaves the different sounds together in near-seamless fashion -- you can tell these guys are pros.

BSS has always had provocative lyrics (and provocative song titles), and FRR is no different, most notably apparent on "Texico Bitches."  My personal favorite track is "Art House Director" (though I can't decide of the song is a satire or critique of art-infused films, film making, and/or celebrity culture):

Grade: A
Blurb: For me, this is their best album and it might be my surprise of the year.

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