For almost two decades now, Canada’s Broken Social Scene have existed as a kind of over-sized dysfunctional family that keeps going despite frequently seeming to be on the verge of breaking apart.
This can never be easy since there are as many as 17 musicians in the band at any one time although this release features a less sprawling line-up. Kevin Drew, singer and co-founder, remains upbeat: “The band is focussed and our mission to continue has stayed intact. The theme is to continue”.
Certainly, there’s no lack of direction or confidence in an album which brings together two 5-track EPs. There’s a total of 36 minutes of music that didn’t quite make it onto their fifth album, Hug of Thunder, and some which was recorded in new sessions. Volume 2 of the collection was originally released on Record Store Day in April.
The wordless chants and driving beat of Remember Me Young still seems like a work in progress but there’s a more fully realized feel to Boyfriends an old song given a fresh lease of life and a big production by Nyles Spencer.
Bassist and fellow co-founder Brendan Canning states that “BSS has always been a band of happenstance. Whoever happens to be around when a song is being created, well they become the creators as well”.
The fruit of the band’s spontaneous working methods is best exemplified in 1972 with sultry vocals from Ariel Engle which was recorded aboard a schoolbus-turned-portable-studio while on tour.
Each of the original two volumes begins with brief ambient mood pieces, namely The Sweet Sea and Memory Lover, but in marked contrast each contains tunes with a full Arcade Fire thrust : All I Want and Can’t Find My Heart.
There’s space too for some breezy pop with Big Couches and the title track shifts the mood back into more reflective territory.
Brendan Canning says “I believe there is spirit amongst us right now” and his optimism seems justified as this is a record that celebrates unity rather than fragmentation.
Broken Social Scene’s website