Record Review - 1 October 02 2003

The sophomore release from Toronto’s Broken Social Scene offers progressive pop from very progressive people. With more than a dozen members, each performing a myriad of different instruments and roles, it’s more like a commune than a group. Individual musicians appear throughout the 13-track album as if at a volunteer rehab facility, making for an eclectic mix of indie, twee, power-pop, alt-rock, synth-pop and heavy orchestration.

With first-time producer David Newfield manning the controls, the possible dangers of creating a wildly uneven, disjointed record are somehow avoided. The deft of You Forgot It In People may well rest in the levels and layering — a wall of sound that perfectly combines guitar, drum, bass, keyboard and other instruments. The record doesn’t feel layered at all, though; it feels like one fully-realized unit.

What seems like a logistical nightmare manifests itself into the glossy sheen of enduring pop, with different visions guiding each track. The airy breeze of the keyboard-driven album opener, “Capture the Flag,” devolves into the thunderous, pulsating drums of “KC Accidental.” “Stars and Sons” rides on the wave-like ripples of its bassline. Jittery guitar-work and a nasal falsetto provide the crux of “Almost Crimes.”

Elsewhere, the sedated Stereolab of “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” transitions to slacker-rock vocals layered over a driving beat on “Cause = Time.” A slowed, funk bass propels “Shampoo Suicide” under an angelic chorus, while the sparse “I’m Still Your Fag” is a sexy, spacious musing with its only accessory a subtle horn fanfare.

The virtual reality of lounging on a beach at dusk pervades this collection. A theme that’s appropriately escapist (like so much great pop) for a collective of individual musicians who live in the Great White North.

i>Broken Social Scene plays the 40 Watt Sat., Oct. 4. $12.