By Beatrice Esteban, Courier Managing Editor
The dominance of pop music has always been highly disputed by music critics worldwide. The flashy and sexually-energized outfits, constant use of Auto-Tune, and lack of true lyrical depth inspired the rise of indie music, a genre made of many sub-genres with one common identifying factor: clear contempt of mainstream music. Emerging into the indie music scene in 2001 with their debut album Feel Good Lost, Canada’s Broken Social Scene began as a duo recording ambient instrumentals but has expanded into a musical collective group with a varying lineup and evolved style. This becomes clear to the listener in 2010’s Forgiveness Rock Record, a seamless integration of different music elements in one enjoyable baroque-indie record.
A defining element of Forgiveness Rock Record is its strong influence by artists from many genres. “Art History Directory” and “Highway Slipper Jam” seem to be the group’s take on the Bob Dylan album Highway 61 Revisited, with the soft instrumentals characteristic of Dylan at the time. Meanwhile, “All to All” features a beat similar to the later work of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, giving the listener an uneasy, almost futuristic feel while delivering impassioned sentiments popularized by angry feminist rock groups. And “Sentimental X’s” sounds almost identical to work produced by fellow Canadian band Metric; this may be because the song’s main singer is none other than Metric’s frontlady Emily Haines.
The instrumental aspect of the album as a whole is also impressive. “Chase Scene” flawlessly blends together the violin, guitar, drums, organ, and some type of horn to deliver a fast-paced beat with a well-done crescendo. “Meet Me in the Basement” is entirely instrumental and delivers a sound that gives an epic, battle-scene type of feel to it. Other uncommon instruments featured on the album include the piccolo and cymbals. It is these unique approaches to instrumentals that set Broken Social Scene apart from other indie bands – the utilization of different instruments gives them a sound rarely and difficultly mimicked by others.
The songwriting off of the album is also to be applauded. From ridiculously excessive swearing in “Texico Bitches” and “Ungrateful Little Father” to melancholy reminisces on love in “Sweetest Kill” and “Me and My Hand”, the writers of Broken Social Scene provide the listener with proof that they have something for everyone to relate to.
Broken Social Scene defies all that today’s popular music stands for, employing more classic influences, noteworthy instrumentals, and meaningful lyrics. In a musical world led by lip-synching dancers and YouTube cover artists that lack original songwriting talent, the band draws in listeners not with their image, but what bands should always draw attention with: their music.