Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew
Filed as a BSS presentation, Kevin Drew’s first quasi-solo effort, Spirit If…, seems to have its musical soul entwined more closely with KC Accidental, Drew’s pre-Scene ambient electro instrumental project with Charles Spearin. Granted, many of the usual suspects are at play from the Broken camp but Spirit’s songs are more simply structured and less raucous in their experimentation, building slowly to transcendent grandeur from humble chord motifs. Ohad and Charles of Do Make Say Think apply their production flourishes with class, splattering and dashing each warmly personal pop song with unique layers that breathe enough to never crowd the melodies. Lush horns, buzzing synths, soaring, skittering strings, chiming keys and bells, hazy voices, a plethora of guitar noises and inventive sound manipulation make every song its own world, sonically and emotionally. "Farewell to the Pressure Kids” opens the album with crashing exuberance before giving way to more subdued material for the next six tracks. Charming quirks don’t quite mask the encumbering nostalgia in parts of this first movement, though the sentiment feels genuine. The bulk of the more boldly engaging material is on the disc’s latter half, making Spirit If feel split, but this is an album that rewards attention, right up to the last fading sound wave.
There’s a lot of talk about pressure in the lyrics. What do you feel are major pressures?
I think instant gratification is a massive pressure. Fear, obviously, is a simple one to notice. I also think following traditions make our generations turn out to be failures. Because we’re following traditions from a time when they weren’t dealing with everything we are now. I find that we haven’t adapted well to the new world we’re living in, in terms of relationships and marriage, all of these things.
Are the lyrics improvised?
Mostly. A couple songs were written and everything else was improvised. You can hear that I’m not quite finishing sentences and we couldn’t re-do it because of the feel. You just can’t fuck with the feel and that’s the whole reason why we make this stuff in the first place; they just have to remain that way. We turned the vocals up on this one. People say "You’ve got to turn up the vocals” and I just look at them and I’m like, "What do you want?”
What do you hope listeners will get out of this album?
I’m not hoping for much except that they use it for their own personal use. It’s interesting you ask that because I was kind of thinking, "I have to start answering questions like this now.” So for a question like, "What do I hope listeners get out of it?” I just hope it makes them feel closer to the idea that it’s okay to be whoever you are. It doesn’t matter if you’ve failed or fucked up or you hurt or you’re hurting or whatever. That’s the whole last song; it’s going to be hard when we get to the end, but don’t forget what you felt. It’s a strange record because I’m left alone to talk about it. It’s not that I don’t want to, I just don’t have a desire to. I’m going to Japan tomorrow to do all these interviews and I’m realising that I don’t really want to talk about it. It’s kind of weird.
Have you had a longer history with singing or is it something you’ve gotten into later on?I got into it with You Forgot it in People basically, that’s when I first started singing. Brendan Canning and Evan Cranley were the two guys who said, "You start singing and we’ll get behind you.” With this one I just kind of winged it; I didn’t really think about it much. And it’s funny because some people say, "I can’t hear what you’re saying,” but it’s because I’m just making it up on the spot.
It seems like you treat vocals more as part of the whole picture.
It’s part of the whole picture; it’s part of the song! I have absolutely no desire to have voices and the music behind them, even though that’s the way it goes in traditional records.
The pop format?
Well, that’s just the way right now, I don’t think it was the way back then and definitely within indie rock you’re not supposed to hear them! Don’t tell me the fuckin’ lyrics, man!
Parts of this album remind me of the ambient layering of KC Accidental, particularly "Gangbang Suicide.”Yeah, it’s a bit of a "choose your own” adventure record. They all are — the records I’ve always been involved with — because we like to do whatever we want, then when we try to fit it in.
What time period were these songs written during?
Basically between 2005 and 2007, like February to February.
Was that going on concurrently with the Broken Social Scene recording?
There were tons of other recordings but I kind of popped two out and started to focus more on them.
(Arts & Crafts)
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