If someone was to write a ‘Rock Family Tree’ about Broken Social Scene, chances are that the interconnecting lines and arrows would cross over each other and stretch so far that the resulting diagram would look like the world’s biggest Spaghetti Junction.
The Canadian collective, who sometimes have so many members it’s a wonder that they all manage to fit on the same stage, have already counted members of Feist, Metric, Apostle Of Hustle, Do Say Make Think and Stars amongst its ranks, and last year chief songwriter Kevin Drew released a solo album under the banner Broken Social Scene Presents…
Now it’s bassist Brendan Canning’s turn, and like Drew’s record, Something For All Of Us is a bit confusing. Can it properly be called a solo record? Most of the rest of the Broken Social Scene regulars are present, and the general feel of the record is very much like that his group would make – all murmured vocals, multi-layered guitars and a general uplifting, anthemic quality.
In fact, if anything, Something For All Of Us gives the impression that Kevin Drew may not quite be the BSS kingpin that everyone presumed. Churches Under The Stairs is vintage Canning, with the male/female harmonies, chiming guitars and a chorus straight out of 7/4 (Shoreline). Hit The Wall has a lovely nagging melody, propelled along by Canning’s trademark bass, while the title track has a brittle, edgy quality nicely at odds with the swooning nature of the vocals.
Yet Canning does feels free to branch out into other areas. The languid funk-rock of Love Is New is startling, sounding like early Talking Heads at times, although sadly it does just seem to drift away halfway through. All The Best Wooden Toys Come From Germany meanwhile is a lovely, almost twinkly instrumental, meshing together horns, electronic effects and guitars.
Canning’s voice is not the strongest – indeed, it often stays buried deep down within the mix – but if you’re a fan of Broken Social Scene, you’ll know that it’s atmosphere that’s all important. Which is something that Something For All Of Us has in spades.
The winsome, piano-led folk of Antique Bull (featuring Broken Social Scene stalwart Lisa Lobsinger on vocals) is a beautiful distraction, while Possible Grenade builds up nicely, creating an almost shoegazing atmosphere with its droning guitars and murmured vocals.
Like’s Drew’s solo record though, there’s an element of frustration involved. Some of the songs seem a bit half-sketched, and with so many members of the band featuring on the record, you start to wonder why they couldn’t have released an official fourth album instead of all these quasi-solo records.
Yet in the absence of that long awaited BSS record, this will more than suffice. While this won’t sell to anyone unfamiliar with Broken Social Scene’s oeuvre, this record, together with Kevin Drew’s effort, makes for a perfect stopgap for the devoted.