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Album review: Broken Social Scene's 'Forgiveness Rock Record'

Broken_social_scene_240_ Despite its name, Broken Social Scene is anything but. Instead, the sprawling Toronto-based collective has functioned like an indie-pop prep school for several talented musicians now all grown up, most notably Leslie Feist and Emily Haines, the latter of whom now helms Metric with fellow alumnus Jimmy Shaw.

And though the group has slimmed down to seven official members, it's a testament to family lure that all the aforementioned make appearances on BSS' first album in five years, "Forgiveness Rock Record," along with several other collaborators, including producer John McEntire, Sea and Cake's Sam Prekop and Tortoise's Doug McCombs, all from Chicago — the only other city with a scene as incestuous as Toronto's.

Clocking in with 14 wide-screen songs, "Forgiveness Rock Record" sounds trim and taut at nearly every turn. McEntire's nimble production keeps all the layers distinct, even when the band is whipping up a tender maelstrom of fey orchestration. Many of the songs bloom from chorus-driven pop into soundscaped reveries, but neither one functions as digression or indulgence.

A few tracks slip by without offering much foothold, but the songs that catch are some of the best of the band's output. The album opener, "World Sick," is a fully realized cycle of insistent guitars, crashing drums and Kevin Drew's psycho-sexual longing. "All to All" is airy grace and "Ungrateful Little Father" is a syncopated blurt of screwball indie pop. "Me and My Hand," by title alone, proves that BSS' stifled giggles aren't contained to just one track. Sure, the members have grown up but just enough.

— Margaret Wappler 

Broken Social Scene
"Forgiveness Rock Record"
Arts & Crafts
Three stars (Out of four)


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