And The Hits Just Keep On Comin': August 2010

And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

A Music Journal Collective Effort

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sentimental, All Of You
(a review of Broken Social Scene's
'Forgiveness Rock Record' by Taylor Eby)

After nearly half a decade since their last release, Toronto’s most beloved

supergroup has returned with Forgiveness Rock Record. The occasional

sixteen-plus member Broken Social Scene has shrunk to a leaner seven-

member outfit, and long-time producer Dave Newfeld has been replaced by

John McEntire of Tortoise and The Sea and the Cake fame. With this new

release, de facto band leaders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning seem to

be less in charge as the band attempts to solidify the current lineup as the

definitive Broken Social Scene. These changes combined have allowed the

band to create one of their most appealing albums to date.

Throughout the record, there are a handful of tracks which harness the

classic anthemic BSS momentum, such as album opener ‘World Sick’ with

its melodic barrage of guitars as well as the instrumental jam ‘Meet Me in the

Basement’ which is certain to become a live staple. However, much of

Forgiveness finds BSS embracing a more clean cut, poppier sound than

their previous works. And while some long-time fans may find this change

of direction a bit off-putting at times, it is nearly impossible not to enjoy

tracks like the incredibly catchy ‘Texico Bitches’. The aforementioned track

seems to be indicative of the band’s change of direction; the sometimes

incoherent, atmospheric haze, which at times bogged down the band’s 2005

self-titled release, is much less prevalent on this record. The band sounds

as crisp as ever - especially on the impressive ‘All to All’ - a musical collage

of guitar effects, strings, synth and the stunning voice of newcomer Lisa

Lobsinger. Another album standout is Andrew Whiteman’s Apostle of Hustle-

flavoured ‘Art House Director’.

Forgiveness, however, is not without some minor detractors. At times the

album meanders as a few otherwise enjoyable tracks begin to overstay

their welcome. There are also a few tracks which come across as contrived

and a bit baffling such as ‘Chase Scene’ which sounds like a peculiar

indie rock parody on late 70s disco/funk. The other obvious blunder is the

eye-roller album closer ‘Me and My Hand’ which appears to be a last-minute


Overall, though, Forgiveness proves to be an exceptional record which

could only have benefitted from trimming down moments of excess and

noncohesion. For those more attuned to the band’s earlier work, it may take

a few listens before Forgiveness fits comfortably into the BSS catalogue.

With Forgiveness, Broken Social Scene manages to hold onto familiar

elements (‘Sentimental Xs’ for instance - the album’s obligatory

Feist-Haines-Millan collaboration) while attempting to navigate through new

sounds. This seems to be the key to this album’s success and the band’s

continuing dominance as one of Canadian indie rock’s biggest acts.

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