2019 marks 20 years since the birth of the Canadian indie rock musical collective. With orchestrations and sometimes crazy and chaotic production style, Broken Social Scene is a cognitive delight, engaging brain and heart in the same note. Their previous album, Hug of Thunder was a meal, filling and nourishing the senses. Their new EP, Let’s Try The After Vol.1, however, acts as a palate cleanser. It is a reminder of what Broken Social Scene can do, leaving us all wanting more.
The album lulls into reality with the sound of distant seagulls and the mellow wail of a guitar combining to sound like the depths of the sea. “Sweet Sea” is a 47 second instrumental that takes you on a journey out to sea and with the brass section to bringing you back to shore. The only fault that lies with Sweet Sea is that it isn’t longer.
The only way to describe the bass line in “All I Want” can only be described in one word. Filthy. The bass line intermittently disappears but when it returned it makes the listener pull faces that only a great bass line can elicit. It may not be the most attractive experience but “All I Want” mixes distant vocals and poking synth to create a romantic and slightly sexy track.
“Boyfriends” is an indie pop history lesson. It builds on top of the soaring rock motifs of Hug of Thunder and makes you wonder how despite their line-up changes, that such a track can sound so focused and concise. It is also dripping in mid-noughties indie pop, reminiscent of the Killers via a grown-up version of The OC with an air of current pessimism and eternal optimistic belief.
With driving drums and bass, “Remember Me Young” is also incredibly nostalgic. The guitar may be loud, but the bass takes the lead on this track, with mellow voice and synth completing the relaxing and melancholic track. It harks back to Broken Social Scene of old and highlights their ability to elicit an emotional response through huge sounds. It is a dense track that takes over your mind, allowing Broken Social Scene to guide you through this loud meditation.
Arguably the best track of the album, “1972” is a mid-tempo bass driven semi-ballad lead by the vocals of Ariel Engle. Engle’s vocal is mournful and sentimental, looking backwards. The brass section pulls us out of the funk before Engle and the bass throws us back in. Like trying to find light when in a sentimental mood, “1972” allows the mind to wander a bit but this doesn’t last long. When the mood-shifting orchestral outro kicks in, Broken Social Scene create an instrumental that makes you feel the weight of the air around you, the weight of responsibility and adulthood while also promising the everything will work out.
When thinking about Toronto’s sound, it is easy to forget that the city has produced other acts other than Drake. But listening to this EP is like walking along the streets of the city, chaotic, busy and crammed with a friendless that pulls you in, gives you a hug and tells you that you belong. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get a Vol. 2.