Broken Social Scene have returned after seven years of silence with a new album entitled ‘Hug of Thunder’ – the band announced its release in May. As well as announcing it, they also divulged that the LP would include a lot of BBS veterans, such as Feist and James Shaw. With over 15 members in the Canadian collective, an album is a huge project. However, the band are always able to instil a real purpose with each project. And with the band releasing ‘Halfway Home’ as a taster, fans await the 7th of July with baited breath.
The first few tracks really do reflect the album title. ‘Soi Luna’ begins the album with a cacophony of both electronic and organic sounds, showcasing the sonic power held by the band. Enormous, emotive chords accompany a fragile and glistening piano melody. We get the impression from this introduction that this will be no less relenting than the albums that have preceded it.
‘Halfway Home’ bursts through with a vitality that is a trademark of the bands approach to composition. Kevin Drew’s powerful vocal performances ride the edge of waves of distorted guitar. This song really heralds a return to form for the band, the dynamics they use are masterful. The guitar is used sparingly which allows for pulses of dissonance to burst forth. The song ends with an unbelievable back-and-forth between trumpet and drum. And the listener is left wondering if the band have any energy left for the rest of the album.
The next song of note is the beautiful ‘Skyline’. The band have turned their instruments down for this one, yet the album does not lose momentum. Kevin’s vocals sound out over the song’s wide and euphoric landscape. Meanwhile, guitars morph from gentle to jagged with a mastery achieved only by a band that have been making music together for this long.
‘Hug of Thunder’ is surprisingly understated for the title track. However the execution of the track is handled perfectly, guitars rumble behind the beautiful, rhythmic vocals. By and large the track plays like a 90’s college rock song, the vocals are subdued until it reaches the chorus. At this point the voice becomes extremely emotive, full of passion.
As the album progresses we see the band visit their old haunts. ‘Please Take Me with You’ is reminiscent of acoustic tracks that they have done before. As the song progresses the repeating of the title/hook becomes more beautiful. The band really showcase their ability to be vulnerable on this track. Phased guitars and whirling synths combine to create a beautiful controlled crescendo, one of the gentlest moments on the album.
We end on ‘Mouthguards of the Apocalypse’, a track that starts with a odd, lumbering baseline. But as the pianos and guitars begin to breathe, we find ourselves greeted by a breathtaking, slightly angsty melody. However, the song explodes at the halfway point. And Kevin drew comes through with a huge vocal performance. The power of the band is fully realised in this song. Towards the end trumpets begin to sound, and as we leave the band once again, we walk through the shattered and breathtaking landscape Broken Social Scene have the ability to construct. The strings ring out, the low bass hums into non-existence. Then there is silence. And the band leave us safe in the knowledge that they have created something beautiful once again.
‘Hug of Thunder’ is out on the 7th of July via City Stang Records.