Thursday, March 02, 2006

Best Music of 2005 (Part 5!)

Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene

Remember that Conan O'Brien skit, "In the Year 2000" ? I thought that was the funniest thing to hit late night TV since Bill Maher. It seemed like the honest fruit of a bunch of creative people sitting around, throwing out ideas and catching the best, and then futurizing them. That's what the new BSS album sounds like. They should really have called the album, "You ain't ready for this shit yet." But then it might have been mistaken for a hip-hop album.

The second and instant-classic album, You Forgot It In People, contained so much interesting! new! exciting! music, it was almost too much. If that album would have been split, with one half coming out post-Float On, Broken Social Scene would be a household name (well, a cool household anyway). From rockers "Cause = Time" to brilliant subtle tracks like "Looks Just Like the Sun" to the best instrumental ever, "Pacific Theme," this seemed to be an album and a band on the cusp of huge sucess. So it comes as a surprise that the band follows up their classic with a tough, passionate, busy, complicated, self-proclaimed "fucking mess" that still manages to rock beyond a reasonable doubt.

Where YFIIP started with a prickly electronic tinkle, this album wastes no time and launches right into an instrumental frenzy with appreggios that fly high into the air and come back down in equally fast explosions of sound. Second track, "Ibi Dreams of Pavement" is busy and recalls the upbeat power of the faster tracks from the previous album. Lyrics throughout the album are skewed, fuzzy and just-barely-decipherable, so that the words mix in with the music seamlessly to create a single, often confusing, barrage of music. "Shoreline" comes in with the first pure, single track, guitar riff before it gets mixed in with another layer then another and another.

There's so much here. So much anticpation, excitment, and passion in every track, it's overwhelming and inspiring at the same time. Producer Dave Neufeld apparently drove himself to therapy trying to make sense of all these sounds. Somehow, in the time between the two albums, the band added another four or five members (which brings the grand total of members of this supergroup to, what? 32?) and I couldn't imagine what it was like to work with all those different musicians, all coming and going at different times over the course of two years, while trying to create a coherent vision. A vision that is clearly ahead of its time.

Despite the power of every note and musical crevice, the underlying subtelty, the nuiscane pushing the enevelope whenever it can, comes through to my practiced ears. I hear it all over the album. I hear a bass and drum combination with a little tipany and I think, "wow, i never heard that before." There's a zipping chrous line to the song, "Fire-Eyed Boy" that is so quick and so zany, it's unlike out there in modern music. Central track, "Windsurfing Nation" (the ex-title track), is musical collage at its best. Electro-drums and driving guitars give way to a rap solo and a Big Band finale while the next track, "Swimmers," is quiet and grounded in reality, chrous: "If you always get up late, you'll never be on time," a perfect match.

The final tracks are long, dense, and a little self-absorbed. As such, I haven't fully appreciated them. To be honest, I've never actually sat through the length of the 10-minute closing track, although I hear it's pretty awesome. But that's a good thing. I adore this album, adore this band, and there's still a quarter of an album left for me to discover. Broken Social Scene's self-titled album was released in mid-2005 amidst a crowd of deserving and attention-grabbing albums, as such its importance may have been marred. Its lack of inclusion in Pitchfork's final list is a devasting oversight, one they will regret. When people start making lists for the best albums of the decade, they may have to save two spaces for Broken Social Scene.

1 comment:

Shawn said...

Elad I couldn't agree more. This latest album is amazing. I have it loaded up on my mp3 player and can listen to it in any mood I am in. It has plenty of bouncy fast beats to entertain me at the gym - but it is calm and thoughtful enough to ease me into a long car drive.

And each time I listen I learn something new. A new beat. A new lyric. A new layer. There is so much going on that just one listen can't do it. It isn't pop. It will never be Float On. It is almost symphonic.

Voices and instruments are used in ways that you don't know which is which. But you still manage to find singable lyrics that stick in your head - even if you can't decipher all of the words!

This album isn't for a music novice. You need time and patience to enjoy everything that is going on. If you want to learn something about music listen to this album and see the potential that is out there.