Broken Social Scene are a Toronto collective of 15 members (and counting) who are perhaps destined to forever exist in the shadow of fellow Canadians Arcade Fire.
Hug Of Thunder has been seven years in the making or, at least, it's been seven years since their last album, Forgiveness Rock Record.
The band's hiatus was abruptly broken by the shock of the Paris terrorist attack 2015. This was the impetus for the band to set aside differences, cast caution to the wind and reunite in what crew leader Kevin Drew calls "an embrace amongst the chaos".
Yet, although one track is called Protest Song, this album focuses more on the personal than the political.
There are celebratory anthems to nothing in particular led by Halfway Home and culminating with Mouth Guards Of The Apocalypse a "stop it now" song raging against the death of hope, the shit on the radio, the redundancy of poets and the dumbness of heroes.
The message of the latter sounds vaguely despairing with Drew snarling "I'm done, I'm done. I wanna kill all my friends" but you sort of know (or hope!) he means the opposite i.e. I'm not done - my friends matter.
Such lyrical ambiguity frequently borders on the surreal. Make what you will of lines like "You wanna be the size of your sex, You wanna be the size of your mess" on Vanity Pail Kids.
Emily Haines and Ariel Engle chip in with female vocals while on the title track Feist sings lead vocals with the band for the first time since their self-titled album from 2005. In this she summons up the ghosts of Syd Barrett and Jeff Buckley for some bizarre cut'n'paste wordplay ("Oxymoron of our lives" anybody?).
Less obscure, and more optimistic, are tunes like Stay Happy and Gonna Get Better, tracks that are more pop orientated.
Overall, this is a flawed yet strident 'we're still standing' record in which the communal energy offers a spirited, if confused, response to confusing times.
Broken Social Scene's website