Broken Social Scene

For almost two-decades, the Toronto-hailing army-of-indie that is Broken Social Scene have been traversing their counter-cultural anxieties with visions of familial community and refreshing doses of celebratory sound-collage – ushering in some of our darkest political hours with defiant, unabashed joy. 2010’s ‘Forgiveness Rock Record’ closed with a two-minute ode to the loneliness found in self-gratification on ‘Me and My Hand’, so it’s no surprise that following 7-years of dormancy, the experimental cult has rediscovered urgency in the fact that their very existence is at war with a world that is increasingly disconnected and autonomous, and from this urgency, ‘Hug of Thunder’s triumphant power is sourced.

18-players flank ‘Hug of Thunder’, but regardless of identity overkill, the fever-dream – anchored by equal measures of content-nausea and connection, is incredibly focused. ‘Sol Luna’s ocean walks tentatively out of a near-decade of silence, only to be met with ring-leader Kevin Drew’s fallen face melting into what he describes as “horror time” on ‘Halfway Home’ – alluding to the “self-care” littered, feeling-destroying sterility of contemporary culture. “Come right into the sunlight,” instructs the red-thread of the Baroque-pop collective in hope of offering an element of sobering, hyper-reality to “cold eyes”. “Take it like your strong,” demands Metric’s Emily Haines of the jaded and dejected listener against over-active, ultralight-beam groove on ‘Protest Song’, where the latest addition to the revolving-door outfit in Ariel Engle leads ‘Stay Happy’: a demolitionary exploration of uncertainty. Distortion quests celebratory musical sketches – decorated with snaking immediacy, before finally turning to “I will be me,” as a mantric answer to the paralysis of being.

Between the veins of lightning, ‘Hug of Thunder’s October-phase in ‘Please Take Me With You’ quietly fulfills the thoughts running through the record. “All the fools are winning, and nobody’s wild,” sings Drew – the answer of finding yourself washed up on a different shore painted between the exhaustion. Much like the canvas depicted on the album’s cover – decaying, yet doused with shapes and colour, the church-of-utopian-ism have revealed the ugly face of the modern ghost with ‘Hug of Thunder’, but have avoided falling into the beast’s pit. Instead, Broken Social Scene are decorating a growing world of “everything now”, Trump-ian individualism with bombastic invention, and they want you to follow.

‘Hug Of Thunder’ marks the fifth studio album from Canadian alt-rock super-group Broken Social Scene, their first in seven years – released via Arts and Crafts July 7th 2017.

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.