I'm not going to be able to offer much here that the indie kids don't already know. Broken Social Scene are a band, er, a collective, that I probably appreciate more than I actually listen to. When "It's All Gonna Break" popped up on my iPod this past weekend, I realized that's probably something that needs to be addressed. Kevin Drew is one of the founders of BSS, and for his first solo record, Spirit If . . . (which still involves various members of the collective, including the always lovely Leslie Feist), he trades on the brand name as "Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew". Not a bad move, considering the fact that it's a pretty solid brand.
Not unlike recent BSS records, Spirit is often a beautiful, sprawling mess, with Kevin Drew at the epicenter, coaxing beauty from chaos. What is slightly different from the typical BSS output is the relaxed nature of the music. While the opening track, "Farewell To Pressure Kids," trades in the same bombastic, baroque, whirlwind rock that is BSS's stock in trade, halfway through, it downshifts dramatically and turns the sonic three-note motif into a mellotronic prayer. This is followed by the profane "tbtf" (abbreviation for "too beautiful to [expletive deleted]"), which is actually a very pretty, if slightly twisted, ode to adoration, and "F-ked Up Kid," an acoustic meditation with the perfect level of ambient electronica hovering in the background.
And so goes this record. It's a ragged beauty, and it kind of reminds me of Thurston Moore's new one in the sense that, coming from someone who normally doesn't hesitate to unleash the noise, there is a fair amount of joy in melody and restraint. This is exemplified in song after song. It's not until the excellent "Back Out On The . . . " -- which would be at home in any Arcade Fire set -- that Drew turns the amps back up to 11.
A generous amount of real care in the production is also apparent, which makes Spirit a strong candidate for the headphones. All in all, Spirit If . . . deserves heavy rotation on your playlist.
MP3: Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew - "Lucky Ones" from Spirit If . . .
And speaking of Canadian musicians, Pop Headwound has news on the re-release of Destroyer's City of Daughters, along with a couple of MP3s.