Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review: Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People

The "We Are the World" of indie musicians.


Well, maybe not exactly that, but still. Rather than being a large vocal group, Broken Social Scene shows us its diversity through music, sounds and oddball combinations in You Forgot It In People. The group has some 20 members, pooling their various indie projects together to create some kind of monster. Their sound is like someone took all these beautiful things, duct taped them together and managed to make it look even better than the sum of its parts. I can only ponder on the exact process it took to create a band like this. Someone says "Hey, let's get as many random musicians as we can and try to make it sound great!" And they did. And you know what? It does sound great.

Alright, let's try to count the performing media here. Let's see, there are at least two lead singers, at least two drummers, five guitarists, four violinists, one or two keyboardists, a few brass players... aw, shoot! I can't do it! I mean, I'm all for bringing as much variety to your sound as possible, but this is way over the top. Not that over the top is really bad, just that it at times sounds really messy. I'm just going to have to resort to the art booklet for listings (I've never had to do this before, so Broken Social Scene makes it a first!)

... Excuse me! Five lead vocalists! Five! That's not normal for an indie band. But... it's awesome! I always love it when a band pleasantly surprises me with multiple lead vocalists: System of a Down, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and of course The Beatles all have multiple lead vocalists. I think it adds lots of variety to the sound by having someone else come in and sing the lead. But five! None of those bands have five as far as I can tell. Even then, sometimes the music spotlights itself by removing the vocals, like the opening and closing tracks ("Capture the Flag," "Pitter Patter Goes My Heart") and "Pacific Theme," probably the most diverse song on the album.

The sound really must be heard to be believed. It's like the amalgamation of all these different viewpoints of music, and it's amazing how they can make it sound like something listenable and coherent. Songs like "KC Accidental" and "Cause = Time" are constantly all over the place, where "Lover's Spit" and "I'm Still Your Fag" tone it down a notch.

I have to set up a special spotlight for "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl," because if I didn't I couldn't live with myself. This is where the strange combination of instruments shines so brightly it's almost blinding. The performing media include combination like a banjo (listed in the booklet, I think, as backward guitar), violin, guitar, hand drums and drum kit, and a keyboard. However, it is nothing near a country song! Emily Haines, the singer from Metric, shows such an emotionally vulnerable state protected only by the odd vocal effects, repeating such simple lyrics that are so universally relatable and so easily remembered that it sticks with anyone who listens. It is a slow song, a sad song about lost love, and will almost certainly bring those who have had a lover change on them to tears. Overall, an overwhelmingly amazing song, so incredibly beautiful and probably one of the best love songs ever written. "Pitter Patter Goes My Heart" is kind of a reprise of the musical elements of the song, and though it's placed at the end of the album, I think the real end is "I'm Still Your Fag," that being an original song rather than a reprise.

Overall, I think this album deserves a place in history, not just because of the amazing "Anthems," but to show those who want to form a super group just how to do it. Listen for the variety between the musical pieces and learn about ways to improve your group with new members, new sounds, and duct tape.

"KC Accidental"

"Almost Crimes"

"Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl"

"Cause = Time"

"I'm Still Your Fag"

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