Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Album Of The Week: Broken Social Scene- You Forgot It In People

When someone writes the history of indie/underground rock for this decade, they'll surely have to include You Forgot It In People by the Broken Social Scene. Released in 2002, it quickly gained critical attention and word-of-mouth love leading to a re-issue in 2003 with different cover art. Broken Social Scene were the first "from left field" indie darlings from this decade that I recall, and they didn't really sound like anyone else out there. It helped that they were A) Canadian B) made up of a large rotating cast of players C) pretty faceless. I mean, sure, Feist is pretty big nowadays, but I probably wouldn't be able to recognize the two "leaders" of the band, Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, if I passed them on the street.

What the band accomplished on You Forgot It In People was re-introducing a sense of "hey, let's see if this works" discovery into pop music. Barring the band's debut album, Feel Good Lost, which was more of an instrumental/ambient affair, at the heart of every Broken Social Scene release beats a heart in love with songwriting and melody, albeit often delivered in unexpected ways thanks to experimental elements, multi-layered production, and interesting instrumentation. 'Stars And Sons' has some nice guitar squall toward the end while buried beneath the rest of the sonic muck of the song is a genuinely emotive vocal. The album takes a surprising left turn with the stripped down, acoustic 'Looks Just Like The Sun', carrying this vibe over to the tropical and almost-Lounge music influenced instrumental 'Pacific Theme.' And the back third of the album magnificently gives itself over to heart-on-your-sleeve romanticisms, a three-part gut punch that begins with the indescribably majestic and goosebump inducing 'Lover's Spit.' Melancholic horns on 'I'm Still Your Fag' ably prove that not only were Broken Social Scene working with a wide palette of sounds and band members, but they knew how to use them sparingly and to great effect. Finally, the lovely violins on closing instrumental 'Pitter Patter Goes My Heart' remind you that the unexpected and experimental elements of an album don't have to come from noise and chaos.

While I may personally prefer their third, self titled album, I do acknowledge that You Forgot It In People is the band's most popular, critically and amongst fans. It is an album that I firmly believe is crucial to understanding the vibe and aesthetics of this decade's music, insofar as indie/underground rock goes. And, along with Arcade Fire's Funeral, it really put Canada on the map as a source of incredible music. Anyone wondering what the fuss about this whole "indie" thing is ought to get a copy of this album, a decent pair of headphones, and dig in.

No comments: