Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Forgiveness Rock Record


I figured I'd better crank out something so Jay doesn't get annoyed that no one else is writing anything, and so Raoow doesn't turn into the "Czech Experience blog."

I wanted to write a review for Forgiveness Rock Record, the new album from Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene, but I realised that these days, I don't really have the time to sit there and listen to it and think about it, and I also realised I'm probably not equipped with the skill set to just listen to music and really deconstruct it. Not in any short time frame anyway.

So, after preordering it and having a bit of a listen, I thought I'd do a first impressions write-up of the new album instead.

One of the first things I noticed was the major reduction of input from the notable Canadian Indie-Scene ladies (Emily Haines, Amy Millan and Leslie Feist) that have always been involved in Broken Social Scene over the years. On Forgiveness Rock Record they seem to have taken a bit of a backseat to Lisa Lobsinger, who I understand they brought on to fill in for the female vocal bits during live touring when the other girls had commitments to their own bands. It makes sense for them to do this, to keep a bit of consistency between studio and live acts, and Lobsinger is clearly capable enough. I remember seeing Broken Social Scene in Wellington a few years back, but it was just the dudes, and the songs with heavy amounts of female vocals were dropped altogether, except for 7/4 (Shoreline) where they brought some chick from some band called the Teacups on who clearly couldn't handle the vocal component. Maybe she'd been drinking. Or smoking heavily. I don't know. Besides Feist singing the track Chase Scene (which I actually quite like) with Kevin Drew, I think the only song where the three usual ladies sing is altogether on Sentimental X's where Emily Haines' voice pretty much dominates.

They seem to be sharing the vocals around the band members a lot more than previous releases. Or at least, it shows a lot more of the different members bringing their own ideas into the mix. This is the first strictly Broken Social Scene album since their self-titled 2005 release, however Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning both put out their own solo albums (albeit with many other members from Broken Social Scene) in this time. Ideas from both of these albums are in Forgiveness Rock Record. The track Art House Director with vocals from Andrew Whiteman, could quite easily belong to Eats Darkness, the most recent album from his own band, Apostle of Hustle. It's a great song, and you'd think that it might detract from the overall feel of the album, but it still seems pretty cohesive to me.

Broken Social Scene have never been hard, full-on rock, but even so I feel that this effort is a lot more mellow than their self-titled album and You Forgot it in People. There are some pretty mellow tracks on here, such as Highway Slipper Jam, Sentimental X's and Sweetest Kill. They're they're nice though, and I know I'll actively want to listen to them in the future.

Towards the end of the CD they've got the track Water in Hell. I once heard a super advance preview of back this in early '08 at that concert in Wellington. I recall them saying something about it being a tribute to NZ band The Clean. It's a decent song, too.

One nice touch was the lo-fi bonus album, Lo-fi for the Dividing Nights, which came with the preordered CD. I'm not going to get into it in any real detail here, but I love lo-fi stuff, and it's always nice to get some additional content for your dollar. This one is mainly instrumental, and it reminds me of the original Broken Social Scene release Feel Good Loss. It's easy just to put on and listen to, and it's just a cool thing to have.

When I started writing, I was kind of down on the album as a whole. But now I've realised that I actually do quite like it and, I expect it to grow on me. So it's good. But having said that, I'm probably actually more excited about the new Wolf Parade album, Expo 86, coming June 29th.

Sorry, Broken Social Scene, but don't worry, I still love you.

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