Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Eclectic Introspection: Broken Social Scene’s Forgiveness Rock Record

Soaring to the top of the Independent music charts in Canada probably wasn’t the intention of Toronto’s Broken Social Scene. This band, well known for having several familiar Canadian musicians, such as Feist, in and out of its line-up for the past 10 years, probably wanted to make another record as removed from the mainstream as everything they’ve collectively and individually recorded since the release of You Forgot It In People in 2002. But the talent-base of B.S.S. is simply too strong to fight against and thus the release of Forgiveness Rock Record, the band’s remarkable album of 2010.

Some bands come and go but for the grace of fans who expect the same music every time they hear them. For B.S.S., the fans have always loved their versatility as musicians and their eclectic mix of music, because they were far more introspective than Arcade Fire and much less driven by ego than trying to create a sound that stood out from the rest of the corporate-rock set. I’m happy to report that this album still has the eclecticism of B.S.S. only more refined. Having worked on and recorded the compositions for the bulk of 2009 under Chicago-based producer John McIntire, B.S.S. has excelled as songwriters and as a band.

This album is tight, taut and interesting to the ear. It features a mix of hard-driving songs with a couple of genuine, radio-friendly, hits: “Forced to Love” and “All to All”. “Sweetest Kill” which borrows a riff from “Lover’s Spit” is a dream pop delight. The arrangements on Forgiveness Rock Record are musically interesting and balanced. I always thought the vocals were buried in the mixes of the earlier records, perhaps with good reason, but this time the blend is far better. This is an album that celebrates the collective known as Broken Social Scene. It’s a family reunion of sorts, due to the disparate and diverse schedules of its members. Five years after their last one, Forgiveness Rock Record may be, dare I say it, the band’s most commercial recording to date. But I’m confident that even the most diehard fan will “forgive” the band of such an indulgence.

-- John Corcelli is a musician, actor, broadcaster and theatre director. In 2008, with Kevin Courrier, he produced a CBC radio documentary for Inside the Music about You Forgot It In People by Broken Social Scene.

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