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Album review: Broken Social Scene's 'Forgiveness Rock Record'

Broken Social Scene makes a grand (re)entrance with "Forgiveness Rock Record."
Broken Social Scene makes a grand (re)entrance with "Forgiveness Rock Record." (Norman Wong)

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Friday, September 10, 2010

"Forgiveness Rock Record" is Broken Social Scene's first album since the group's eponymous, and cranky, 2005 release. With the tight and polished "Forgiveness," the Canadian indie rockers seem much happier.

Typical of BSS, this is not music for lo-fi fans of minimal arrangements. For the most part, grandeur abounds; it's epic in scope, with big ambitions and even bigger sounds. There are guitar solos, synths, haunting strings, piano, pounding drums, horns and soaring choruses. There are instrumentals ("Meet Me in the Basement"), uptempo numbers filled with synths and violins ("Chase Scene") and arena rockers ("Forced to Love"). With its horn section, "Art House Director" could pass for an updated '70s TV theme song, while "Highway Slipper Jam," with its slide guitar and harmonica, has its alt-country moments.

"Forgiveness" contains more radio-friendly tunes, but true to its indie roots, the band makes it difficult for radio to play them. The album opener, "World Sick," is filled with beautiful guitar lines, crashing drums and delicate harmonies that build to a crescendo, only to tumble to silence, but the song is seven minutes long. And "Texico Bitches" has an infectious melody, but no one will play a song that repeats that title 12 times.

The strength of "Forgiveness" lies in the band's ability to pull off a diverse mix of genres so well. They play big but catchy, which is not easy to do. (See rock, prog.) It's grandeur without the bombast.

-- Benjamin Opipari


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