Features Reviews

VFTA: Broken Social Scene Part 4 – "Forgiveness Rock Record"

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Not sure what this VFTA malarkey is all about? See here. To Listen along with Ben, BSS’ Forgiveness Rock Record is on Spotify.

So, the millennium is suddenly ten years old, and the initial growing pains and troubles have been dealt with, and everyone is left looking forward in collective optimism. How apt it is then that the bands that carried the people through the bad times, remain as the soundtrack to their lives ten years on.

In 2010, Broken Social Scene continues to shine a light through the darkness.

Having released their forth studio album, Forgiveness Rock Record in May of this year, the Canadian mass ensemble seem to have created not just another skilled blend of sounds and emotions, but also a hugely credible indie-rock album. As a collection, Forgiveness Rock Record is arguably the band’s most accessible album yet, and certainly has a mood for any listener.

Opening with the epic and achingly beautiful World Sick, it is also noticeable that the group has perfected some true anthems here. As a gentle guitar refrain meanders against an ethereal pulsing rhythm, the chanting lyrics break in, just as the guitar sprinkles off, up into the atmosphere, culminating in a ‘smile on the face, hands in the air’ moment of bliss. Similar moments occur in Texico Bitches and inverse romantic ballad, Sweetest Kill.

On the flip side, the band quicken the tempo and apply the brass section on tracks such as Art House Director, Forced To Love and the awe inspiring instrumental Meet Me In The Basement, to generate a wall of sound that manages to blow you away in such a charming way.

However, the true gem of the collection is All To All; an interstellar blast that fuses together everything that the band, and their previous work, is all about, dream like emotional escapism. It achieves this euphoria through its use of tinkling guitar and synth effects, with the addition of a crisp drum machine beat, laced with mouth watering vocals.

The most striking element of this current album is the transition Broken Social Scene has made, and the path that led them to it. As one trawls through the unique band’s back catalogue, one cannot help but be amazed at just how different each collection appears; From the wispy instrumental debut, through the dark You Forgot It In People, and eventually landing in the anthemic power house of sound and feeling that they find themselves in today. This journey has molded the group from being simply another experimental indie band, to becoming fully fledged artists. After years of lulling the listener through a sweet dream, Broken Social Scene have finally escaped and now exist within their own sun soaked dream.

Ben Hawling

Features Reviews

VFTA: Broken Social Scene Part 2 – "You Forgot It In People"

Not sure what this VFTA malarkey is all about? See here.
To listen along with Ben, BSS’ “You Forgot It In People” is on Spotify.

Following a brief hiatus in the first half of the decade, the Canadian musician ensemble, Broken Social Scene released their second album, “You Forgot It In People”; an album that was sure to carry more weight to it due to the further addition of artists to the already heavily populated group.

With the surplus members and ideas, the band, namely core founders Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew, expanded their sound and embraced new moods still allowing the listener to escape real life, but this time without the dreaming.

“You Forgot It In People” offers a more accessable selection of ‘indie-rock’ gems then previous album “Feel Good Lost”, in the sense that the intimate ambiance has been replaced with vocals and stronger melodic hooks. The band have not however abandoned their initial dream state sound completely. Essences of ethereal lifts and heavy orchestral tones are still present throughout, but are now supported by poetic lyrics, attempting to make sense of the real life one had left behind.

A track that perhaps breaks this rule, ‘Cause = Time’, strikes hard at the album’s heart and tells of the how society resorts to sex and selling its body, in an attempt to find meaning in life. ”And they all want to love the cause, ‘cause they all need to be the cause, they all want to fuck the cause”. Yet, such a dark message is still accompanied by melodic guitars and a pulsing tempo, making it almost anthemic and full of emotion. Another significant track here is ‘Looks Just Like The Sun’; a chilled and relaxed refrain that doesn’t just look, but also feels like the sun, as the lyrics describe someone whose presence radiates on the listener. Both tracks giving justified backing to the album’s title, suggesting that such individual florishes, and human error, has been taken for granted in society as a whole.

As with their debut, the band take the listener on an exploration through a series of ideas and visions, and peaks and troughs, but overall have managed to create a fine fusion of dark imagery with their trademark escapist tone, culminating in a very strong follow up album. At the time, this quality was recognised as the band recieved awards and accolades from right across the board; a just victory deserved for a group with such a unique vision and sound. From here, it is possible for Broken Social Scene to go anywhere, having both existed in beautiful dreams, and now harsh, yet lucid realities.

Ben Hawling

Features Reviews

VFTA: Broken Social Scene Part 1 – "Feel Good Lost"

Not sure what this VFTA malarkey is all about? See here.
To listen along with Ben, BSS’ “Feel Good Lost” is on Spotify.

The year 2000; the start of the new millennium, but more importantly the birth of new ideas, perspectives and emotions.

Around the same time as the world welcomed in this new decade, a fresh sound was growing from the suburban basements, and urban meadows of America and Canada. A sound that projected pure poetry and delicate lyrical narratives, set to beautifully crafted instrumental dream states. Circa 2000, the pioneers of this ‘post-rockesque’ styling included bands such as Bright Eyes, The Shins and Death Cab For Cutie, all of which continue to evolve and develop this glorious sound 10 years on. But one group who appear to have nurtured the genre throughout the decade, and are still exploring it to this day, are Broken Social Scene.

Formed in Canada in 1999, Broken Social Scene originally existed as a mix of collaborators, musicians and friends who blended an array of musical projects and ideas together. After two years of fine tuning, founding members Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew wrote the band’s debut album “Feel Good Lost”; a myriad of moods and tones that truly paints a picture of the mass artist collective present and the new millennium perspective.

“Feel Good Lost” is apt as a debut as it consists mostly of instrumental stylings, and in many ways acts as introduction to the band’s avant-garde direction. The moods contained in the album rise and fall and a series of emotions, and dreams are explored in intimate detail. ‘Alive In 85’ capturing a rather more jovial mood setting with muffled yet busy tempo, and gently wafting guitar melodies. Whereas, ‘Stomach Song’ represents a more claustrophobic, enclosed atmosphere, with its murky orchestration and eerie collection of vocal clips looped over and over throughout. The collection of work here tends to float along sweetly, culminating in the heavy ‘Last Place’, that acts as the awakening from the troubled, yet peaceful dream of the album.

As “Feel Good Lost” reaches it’s optimistic closing track ‘Cranley’s Gonna Make It’, one can’t help but agree with the album’s title; that it has felt good being lifted out of the harshness of real life, and left alone to wonder in this pure dream state. Admittedly, Broken Social Scene’s debut isn’t one of strength or power. But what it does hold is potential, promise and the odd sense of escapism that exists so beautifully in the music of all those visionary band’s way back in 2000.

The Year 2000: That start of the great escape!

Ben Hawling

Features Reviews

VFTA: ‘View From The Afternoon’ Introduction

Sometimes, when a band release a new album, the very fabric of your passion for them is tested. Do you like their new material? Have they lost their way?

I don’t know about you, but I do this all the time. I find that listening back over the entire back catalogue of the band doesn’t just refresh and rekindle the appreciation that you initially built for them, but also allows you to track the band, or artists growth as they evolve through the music industry, and find their ‘sound’. And, if you’re lucky, you may even discover little treats in the albums that you didn’t hear before, woop!

Every week at Spotisfaction towers, I will atempt to rummage through an artist’s past albums and explore exactly where they’ve come from, and where they are heading, in a feature we’re calling ‘View From The Afternoon’. This will be fun, honest!

The name? After much deliberation and indecision over what such a feature could be called, View From The Afternoon was chosen. The title refers to the Arctic Monkeys track; the lyrics of which describe how perspectives of past events change in time, and alter with the benefit of hindsight. This is kind of what we are doing when we look back over a band’s past albums. We are judging their current musical state on the twists and turns that have taken place before, and can only now hold a true picture of their work as a whole.

Ok, so its a weak title, but until we think of something better, it stays, so there!

To kick off this glorious feature, we are dedicating a week to those quirky Canadian shoe gazers, Broken Social Scene, in honour of their upcoming live gig at Birmingham Academy on Saturday [Editor’s note: if you’re coming, let us know!].

I for one have never actually listened to the band before, or any of their work, so this week’s trawl through their back catalogue will be hugely beneficial for me. If you are already a fan, I hope the following reviews and opinions appear just, and that they help you fall in love with the band all over again, just in time for the gig.

We hope you enjoy these weekly journeys, and that they shine a light on your life somehow. Enjoy Broken Social Scene, and we’ll see you down the front!

Nuff said!