Broken Social Scene

Hug of Thunder

Arts & Crafts

Jul 06, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Rarely do album names manage to sum up a sound as aptly as Hug of Thunder does for Broken Social Scene. The Canadian collective can switch seamlessly between a rolling crash of noise and sparse intimacy, often within the same breath. It's a trick they've been pulling off for the better part of two decades, and while it's grown more refined, the impact is every bit as powerful.

Seven years have passed since the loose and ever-changing line-up built around Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning last put something out, unless you count the multiple records from the day jobs of regular contributors (when it comes to Broken Social Scene, it's almost worth asking who in Canadian indie music hasn't contributed at some stage). Now they've returned with a record that shows they continue to understand what makes them tick even as they evolve.

The change displayed on Forgiveness Rock Record, one that saw them tighten the sound, reining in the sprawl, is further developed here. There are only two tracks longer than five minutes and none more than six, Hug of Thunder is working within contained limits. At least that appears to be the case from the outside. Listen to any song and controlled chaos is still present. Guitars duel with each other buzzing away, vocals fade in and out, brass instruments flare up and that ever-present bass continues to keep things ticking over. 

After a dreamy opening Hug of Thunder explodes immediately into life with early release "Halfway Home" and "Protest Song." Both drive forward rapidly, finding space for gloriously catchy choruses in amongst the madness. Where once the collective might have drawn either song out for minutes, they've learnt to chain them down securely allowing space to go kick loose without losing discipline.

As their fifth full-length moves on, the music slows and hollows, turning into stripped down echoes. "Please Take Me With You" lives on the bassline and "Mouth Guards of the Apocalypse" builds to a beautifully stuttering conclusion. It's an impressive return for a band that set the bar high years ago and continue to clear it with ease. (www.brokensocialscene.ca)

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