Rhythm & Views

Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene lives up to its name in part: It's really more of a collective, a "scene," if you will, of Canadian musicians--but it's far from broken. About 18 people are involved with the band, but not all of them contribute to every song. The main forces are Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew, but their conducting doesn't overshadow the other contributors--because Broken Social Scene embraces the aesthetics of all of the musicians involved, the music creates a certain consensus of sound that doesn't silence any voice singing. Broken Social Scene is less a scene than a musical kibbutz.

Broken Social Scene, its third full-length, continues with the group's clever song titles--here we have "Handjobs for the Holidays" and "Finish Your Collapse and Stay for Breakfast" (although nothing can quite top "I'm Still Your Fag" from 2003's You Forgot It in People). The glib titles are matched by glib songwriting that refuses to be pinned down. "Finish Your Collapse ..." is just ambient synths and guitar--you were expecting lyrics, a chorus, maybe a bridge? Ha, says Broken Social Scene. But then "Fire Eye'd Boy" kicks in with a pop catchiness that rivals fellow Canadians the New Pornographers, just to prove you wrong again. By "Hotel," they're employing Michael Jackson-esque synth antics, and then the album ends with "It's All Gonna Break," which is about as pop as one can get, except that it's 10 minutes long. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Broken Social Scene is their anti-hipster hipsterness--Air or Stereolab never had this much fun.

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