Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record

Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record

It’s been five years since the critically-acclaimed Broken Social Scene, and expectations are high for the eponymous band. So, how do you follow up your most successful album, and more so, how do you pull of the three-peat without rehashing your previous two albums in hopes recapturing the same success? This is the conundrum that faces Toronto supergroup Broken Social Scene with their most recent album, Forgiveness Rock Record. The formula remains the same: a nucleus composed of vocalist Kevin Drew, guitarist Brendan Canning, and drummer Justin Peroff playing alongside a small army of their best friends.

With so many members chiming in, it’s nearly impossible to have one cohesive album. What we’re treated to, then, is a patchwork of styles loosely held together by Drew, Canning, and Peroff. Only BSS would follow the appropriately named but completely nonsensical “Chase Scene” with a charming and delightful pop song like “Texico Bitches.” Jumping from style to style, none of the songs really feel at home with one another; in the context of the entire album, however, everything makes sense. Beyond the songs, Forgiveness Rock Record feels like two albums, with the first half ending with “Ungrateful Little Father” and the new, more mellow second album beginning with a very BSS-like jam session in “Meet Me in the Basement.”

This apparent lack of direction might doom other albums, but BSS has made a career of doing whatever, whenever, and it continues to work. What’s really different with Forgiveness Rock Record is the lack of extraneous noise that was so prevalent in previous albums. Despite having just as many contributing members, producer John McEntire was wise enough to not include every member on each track. There’s genius in the simplicity of the enthusiastic ’90s indie-rock ballad, “Water in Hell.” Even the noisiest song, “Forced to Love,” could be performed well with a five-man set up, a far cry from the dozen needed in previous songs like “Fire Eye’d Boy.”

If there is a common thread to be found in Forgiveness Rock Record, it’s the somber lyrics. Whether it’s the regret in songs like “Highway Litter Jam” or the pains of abandonment felt through “Ungrateful Little Father,” the album certainly works through some issues. While sullen lyrics aren’t entirely unusual for BSS, the lyrics have come to the forefront as extraneous instrumentation has fallen by the wayside.

Five years wasn’t too long for the band to release the followup to Broken Social Scene — all in all, Forgiveness Rock Record is a more thoughtful album. Impossible as it may sound, the attention to detail and polish of Forgiveness Rock Record overshadows the band’s previous three albums. There is a sense of deliberateness to what’s being recorded; whether that’s better or worse is entirely up to you.

(Arts and Crafts -- http://www.arts-crafts.ca/; Broken Social Scene -- http://www.brokensocialscene.ca/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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