CD review: Broken Social Scene

Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts)

Forgiveness Rock Record is Broken Social Scene's fourth album, and it isn't as lengthy as their 2005 self-titled release. But it's still marked by frequent sonic detours. Opener "World Sick" comes off like a less caffeinated Vampire Weekend. In almost seven minutes, it goes from low-key tribal drumming to wistfully cascading guitar and then to bombast. "Texico Bitches" is yet another of the band's odd song titles, which they only get away with because of tightly wound lyrics and solid arrangements. "Sentimental X's" is the first song in the band's history to include Leslie Feist, Emily Haines and Amy Millan singing together. The results make you wonder why it didn't happen sooner. "Art House Director" features majestic horns, while "Ungrateful Little Father" ascends for nearly seven minutes before drifting off into low-earth orbit. "Water in Hell" is the album's high-water mark, with "Sweetest Kill" a close second. You can almost hear a summer-festival audience singing at the top of their lungs during the chorus of "Water in Hell," while "Sweetest Kill" melds understated instrumentation with frontman Kevin Drew's damaged falsetto. Perhaps this duality is the key to the band's success. One minute, they're cranking out string-filled scattershot pop like "All to All"; the next they're delivering ethereal instrumentals like "Highway Slipper Jam." —Jeremy Willets

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