Broken Social Scene, Broken Social Scene

David Stubbs

By David Stubbs

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A blurry, fractured, eclectic masterwork from an amorphous Canadian collective.

A collective of Canadian musicians gathered around the nucleus of co-founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, Broken Social Scene scotch the notion that avant-garde rock must by nature be brooding, ominous and dystopian. Their self-titled album is blurry, eclectic, fractured, misshapen pop arrived at by fuzzy logic. Yet it's imbued with that rarest of commodities in experimental music, a sense of sheer, vitamin joy. Opener "Our Faces Split the Coast in Half" gathers strength and pushes through like a ramshackle tornado of guitar and brass, sweeping the listener up in the process. As with previous too-many-cooks indie collectives like the Blue Aeroplanes, the feeling as a listener that there are so many of Broken Social Scene and only one of you cannot but raise a smile. Tracks like "Major Label Debut" and the hazy, fragmented, perfumed "Bandwidth" are off-key and off kilter, inducing double vision and prism effects. Yet it never feels shambolic or annoying; instead it adds to the bustle, vivacity and anarcho-syndicalist charm of the songs. "Fire Eye'd Boy" bursts like a sofa with ideas, with percussive breaks, deadpan solos and drones hovering in unexpectedly from all angles, while the absolutely beautiful "Swimmers" shimmers with mini-starbursts and musical epiphanies. This is one of the most uplifting and enriching albums of the decade.