Broken Social Scene
Forgiveness Rock Record
Arts & Crafts
May 04, 2010 Issue #31 - Spring 2010 - Joanna Newsom
Written by a core of six players (Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Charles Spearin, Andrew Whiteman, Justin Peroff, and new guitarist Sam Goldberg) and produced by John McEntire (Gastr del Sol, Tortoise, The Sea and Cake) instead of longtime producer David Newfeld, Forgiveness Rock Record represents a different Broken Social Scene than the collective that broke out of Toronto in the early 2000s. Since the band's last album, 2005's self-titled release, Spearin and Whiteman briefly left the group, founders Drew and Canning released solo albums, and alums continued their careers with group albums (Stars, Metric) and solo releases (Emily Haines, 1; Amy Millan, 2; Jason Collett, 3). And that's to say nothing of the stratosphere-reaching solo success of Feist. Yet, even with contributions from tens of additional players, the band's fourth full-band album is its most cohesive work to date.
Most striking is the presence, and one might even say plethora, of hooks. Whether it's the straight up melody-rock of "Forced to Love," or the jubilant, quirky bounce of the horn-inflected "Art House Director," Forgiveness often seems a far cry from the mix-tape ethos of the band's earlier releases. Touring singer Lisa Lobsinger takes a stunning vocal turn on the ethereal "All to All," her angelic vocals soaring above electronic atmospheres like a phoenix from what was almost the ashes of a defunct band. "Chase Scene" features a skittering rhythmic pulse and light orchestration, and "Sweetest Kill" is all cool melodic groove. Extended family members still grace the album with their presence—Haines, Millan, and Feist provide sublime vocals on "Sentimental X's," and Pavement's Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg guests on the churning "Texico Bitches"—but Forgiveness Rock Record is less about the eccentric and more about a band that, 10 years on, seems to be coming into its own. The endearing songwriting idiosyncrasies still exist (heck, the band concludes the album with two minutes of indie-soul titled "Me and My Hand"), but this is a Broken Social Scene more ready for mass consumption. And, for once, that is not a bad thing. (www.brokensocialscene.ca)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 9/10