Music Reviews
Forgiveness Rock Record

Broken Social Scene Forgiveness Rock Record

(Arts and Crafts) Rating - 7/10

Broken Social Scene make big, sprawling music fitting of a big, sprawling band whose members span multiple genres, projects and scenes. They’ve made consistently solid and occasionally great music since they first burst into the public eye with You Forgot It In People in 2002. Forgiveness Rock Record continues to develop the anthemic sounds they have increasingly incorporated on each passing album.

Forgiveness continues on a logical artistic trajectory. The new, smaller and more streamlined BSS sounds like exactly that. The sound is still large and powerful, but it sounds a little more focused and accessible. The show was always, and still is, run by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, but the influence of the other dozen plus members doesn’t shine through nearly as much now that they’ve locked the lineup down to six people. Other BSS stars still make guest appearances and add to the sonic stew that made them so interesting in the past. Leslie Feist, Emily Haines and Evan Cranley all make notable contributions among others.

Despite its complete lack of surprises, Forgiveness Rock Record does not disappoint. Its uplifting and often celebratory tone is a welcome change from other big name releases this year, and there isn’t a bad moment on the record. It’s even got a couple of fantastic ones. The opening World Sick is great, as is Forced to Love and the mostly instrumental Meet Me in the Basement. Water In Hell is another standout track. They all make for an easier, more marketable sound. They make an album like this sound effortless, a testament to their talent as a band.

The issues lie in the albums second half. Individually, all the songs stand up to those in the first, but beginning with the wandering, drawn out ending of Ungrateful Little Father (otherwise a pretty good song) sets pace for the rest of the album. What was well paced and well arranged becomes slow and drawn out.  It makes the album feel overlong and overdone by its finish, an unfortunate end for a record that, with more careful arrangement in its second half, could have come close to being a second masterpiece. It’s a similar problem to the one they faced on 2005’s self titled outing.

Broken Social Scene hasn’t come close to touching You Forgot It In People, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of their subsequent albums. They’ve never let us down before, and they don’t here, as frustrating as it is to hear the band fall just short of crafting something incredible. All the songs stand up, but the album loses steam and focus and begins to drag by the end of its 65 minute running time.