Here begins the month of reviews that will determine an outright winner. We begin with...
Forgiveness Rock Record
Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene's sound is the dovetailing appreciation of classic rock grandeur and indie-pop detail. They don't stray from this approach on Forgiveness Rock Record. A microcosmic example of this style is the jaunty "Texaco Bitches", its straightforward rock core all garnished with chunky bass and digital rushes. Indeed, smashy cymbals, soaring vocals, and flittering guitars (and chimey guitars, and booming guitars--lots of guitars, you see) populate the 14-song album, which sports as dynamic a sound as you'd expect from such a sizeable ensemble.
Opener "World Sick" is the kind of six-minute epic we're accustomed to hearing from BSS. After it rolls to a stop, "Chase Scene" launches ahead. It's as a song no more subtle than its title suggests, nor is it particularly groundbreaking. The album's middle section takes a refreshing summery turn, befitting of a May release. The vaguely tropicalia "Art House Director" would sound right blaring from beach-cruising convertibles, while the ensuing "Highway Slipper Jam" is as breezy as fading Caribbean sunset. The minutes-long instrumental outro of "Ungrateful Little Father"--serving as a midpoint for the album--reminds me of the coda of Wilco's "Reservations" viewed through a chillwave lens. Not yet ready to vocalize, the energetic instrumental "Meet Me in the Basement" throbs to a crescendo over three minutes before giving way to digitally washed "Sentimental X's". "Sweetest Kill" is a pulsing electroballad with a nice ambient haze about it.
My pick for most compelling track might be the least so for many core fans who aren't as enamored with straightlaced Americana as I. "Water In Hell" would have made for a classic Big Star track, with it's anthemic 70s-rock chorus, replete with falsettoed "Ooh-ooh-oohs", a meaty I-IV progression, and a double-time breakdown. Although with the inclusion of the lyric "It's the year 2010", it risks becoming laughably anachronistic for the next ten years or so, at which point it reaches an acceptable vintage. The album closes with the scant, dreamy ballad "Me and My Hand" which one can only assume is about punching the clown. But it's a nice aesthetic anyway, and the Forgiveness Rock Record glows out with it.
Pros: Strong songwriting through and through, with tunes like "World Sick", "Art House Director", and "Water In Hell" lending the album consistent strength front to back. Should be a nice summer album.
Cons: There is a yawner or two, and again I'd underscore my distaste for "Chase Scene", which I feel is sort of a lazy effort for a band who generally distances itself from such a label.
As I reminder, I won't be giving objective ratings for these reviews, just providing a final order at the end of the month.