Broken Social Scene is not a band with delusions of grandeur — they’ve pretty well nailed grandness at this point. With 11 regular band members and most of the rest of Canada making guest appearances, there aren’t many rock bands that can practice the sonic hugeness that Broken Social Scene can. Their last album, You Forgot It In People, was hailed by some as a “perfect pop record” and by other, more realistic people, as “a record with many perfect pop songs and a few worthless noise tracks.” Their new self-titled record might not be “perfect pop” just yet, but it’s definitely a gargantuan step in the right direction.
While You Forgot It In People dragged in its downtempo numbers and experimental interludes, the band’s aural Jenga never seems to falter on Broken Social Scene. Layers upon layers are stacked until headphone cups are filled to the brim. The result is the amazing feat of the long-playing pop song: eight different tracks on this album breach the 4-1/2 minute mark. Just when a song begins to wander, some new drum flutter in one ear or a quick vocal fill from Brendan Canning or Leslie Feist reins it back in.
The songs, in actuality, sound a great deal like the songs on their last album, but the band has trimmed the fat. Standouts like ‘Fire Eye’d Boy’ and ‘7/4 (Shoreline)’ are microscopically precise rock songs from a band that has mastered the art of making loads of noise. Aside from sweeps of cymbals and guitars, periodic bursts of brass and male/female vocal interplay accent virtually every track. Other dozen-member collectives and certain linguistically impaired Icelandic bands have proven that lavishly orchestrated rock doesn’t always make for enjoyable listening, but Broken Social Scene is, thankfully, a pop band before a collective. The powerhouse drumming never gets drowned out no matter how big a wash of sound, making the album a non-stop celebration of everything huge.