BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE Broken Social Scene (Arts & Crafts)
I tried with The Arcade Fire, I really did, but whenever I played their much trumpeted Funeral it was thrilling at first like Godspeed You Black Emperor! playing pop tunes but flagged long before its end. Happily, this years many-headed (17 members are listed on the sleeve) Canadian collective well, not really this years, since Broken Social Scene is Broken Social Scenes third album come far closer to my idea of greatness. At their best they sound like My Bloody Valentine (the white noise wipe-outs) meeting The Flaming Lips (the delicious tunes) and covering I Am The Walrus, except they dont so much push the sonic envelope as turn it inside out.
Lordy knows what a song such as Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day) is actually about, but its a delicious confection of indestructible steam-powered melody and distortion. If you can relate to Mercury Rev in their early, David Baker-led incarnation youll enjoy this when the brass section troops in its like Boces all over again, in ways that no album Ive heard in the intervening 13 years has dared to be. And the Scene have the best song titles since Sufjan Stevens last opened an atlas, as Finish Your Collapse And Stay For Breakfast and Handjobs For The Holidays attest. 7/4 Shoreline is perfect MBV-style pop chopped up into alien time signatures, and positioning the twinkling, sparkling Major Label Debut at the end of side one further cements the Boces comparisons, being pleasantly reminiscent of the Revs Downs Are Feminine Balloons. The delicious Fire Eyed Boy tips its hat more than a little in the direction of New Orders Age Of Consent, all faux-Hooky bassline and Stephen Morris-style human drum machine percussion. The stuttering experimental chaos of Windsurfing Nation suddenly, alarmingly perhaps, breaks into rap, Superconnected is a thunderous, unstoppable assemblage, Its All Gonna Break a gargantuan thing that throbs and weaves to a bombastic motion picture soundtrack climax.
The vinyl edition of Broken Social Scene is blessed with a whole side of extra tracks collectively titled EP To Be You & Me. Amidst much scattershot instrumental experimentation can be found the insidiously catchy monstrous pop music of Canada Vs America, All My Friends acoustic introspection on the run from reality and the bouncy fun that is a fast version of Major Label Debut.
Sometimes Broken Social Scene relies more on its raggedy charm than songwriting skill, and perhaps the anti-formula frays in places, but its still great fun in an avant garde jumble sale, blurred but beautiful sorta way. And its all brought to us with the financial assistance of the Canadian government, something to be gently grateful for and appreciative of.