Published Apr 24, 2010Five years is a big gap between records for most bands, but it doesn't feel like that with Broken Social Scene. With founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning using the band's moniker to present their "solo" albums, and every other member absorbed in other projects, Forgiveness Rock Record arrives with a casual kind of anticipation. It shouldn't though. By hiring producer John McEntire (Tortoise, the Sea & Cake), the band, which are now a slender six-piece, sound revitalized on their fourth LP. Trimming the fat (read: 12 or so members at one point) has given BSS more control, which is something they lost on 2005's heavily layered self-titled album. With a neat freak like McEntire on hand, they've also added a plethora of cool percussive flourishes (see "All To All"), but the band's loose, jam-heavy sound remains essentially untouched. There are still plenty of cameos by the horn section ("Art House Director"), Emily, Leslie and Amy ("Sentimental X's") and of course, their signature, fist-pump-evoking crescendos ("World Sick," "Meet Me In The Basement"). Like the winner of The Biggest Loser, Forgiveness Rock Record results in a leaner, healthier Broken Social Scene, who sound like they're in the best shape of their lives.
How was it different making this record with six members as opposed to the usual unlimited line-up?
Canning: It's this core band writing the tunes. Whereas for the other records it was these guys writing this song, these guys here for another song, where it feels more like a compilation by different bands. For this album, we knew who the band that put down this record and who the auxiliary players were. Before, it wasn't really defined.
The self-titled album from 2005 has been called messy. How did this one avoid that?
Drew: [With the last record] we didn't really take the time to play around each other, we just dumped shit on top of the songs. Whereas with this one we really wrote melodies around each other and I've been saying a lot lately that this band are filled with melody junkies, so it was pretty unavoidable to make sure that everybody had a hook in each song. There's a lot going on in this record too; it's just more concise because we made sure we didn't play on top of each other.
What made you go with John McEntire over your in-house producer Dave Newfeld?
Drew: It was time for a change; it was time for a different energy; and it was time to get out of the city. All of those things played a part of it. Of course, Dave was missed. He was definitely on my mind a lot of the time.
Justin Peroff: At times, it was a little frightening because we became very exposed as a band, sonically. People were certainly freaked out about how clean and precise it all sounded, but it resulted in this and I'm really pleased with it.
Where did the album's title come from?
Drew: Forgiveness is the reason why we're still here as a band. Also, we were really thinking about the nature of everything right now and for us it was inevitable that it was the key to keep everything going. It felt right. You choose a title, you sit with it, you try to change it around and we kept falling back on that one because I felt the tone of the record was based around that, lyrically.
Peroff; Records are like love letters. There are many different types of love letters that you can write. Sometimes they include the word forgiveness. And that's how I see it. (Arts & Crafts)