Along with generating some of indie rock's most exhilarating, experimental pop music, Toronto's Broken Social Scene can add international espionage to its resume. During a recent tour stop in Nashville, their tour manager lost his laptop, apparently containing plans for a top-secret government building in Berlin.
We got it back, and the celebrations were huge, explains vocalist Kevin Drew. But it's all busted, so it remains to be seen whether the plans for the building are on it. [The tour manager] is convinced that it's an American job. Yep, we're into the espionage business now...off the record, of course.
As for Broken Social Scene, the secret's out.
From the atmospheric opening notes, the band's new album, You Forgot It In People, runs the gamut from clattering, clanging, noisy indie rock to glittering, sweet acoustic-pop. At the time of the recording, Broken Social Scene was very much a collective. Members of the crack new-wave outfit Metric and Toronto's Stars joined the BSS core members-Drew, Brendan Canning (guitar, bass), Justin Peroff (drums), Jason Collette (guitar) and Andrew Whiteman (guitar).
The loose gathering translates well on You Forgot, resulting in a varied and beautiful collection of songs that follows BSS's experimental 2001 debut, Feel Good Lost, a compilation of basement tapes assembled by Drew and Canning. Drew says they made an effort to create within the pop format this time around.
I think we made a pop record-I know we made a pop record, he says, taking a rest in Toronto from a constant touring schedule. We know we can do the 10-minute drone-let's see if we can write a song. So if you're happy and you know it, clap your fucking hands.
Guitarist Whiteman penned Looks Just Like the Sun, an acoustic gem and one of the standout tracks on You Forgot It in People. Also one of the album's most intimate moments, Whiteman's vocals and guitar were recorded live. During the song, he can be heard prompting the rest of the band, whispering coming after this and here we go.
That's my favorite off the record,' says Drew. I sequenced this record, so I listened to it hundreds and hundreds of times. After a while, I'd skip songs, because I'd get the gist of them. But I always took a break with Looks Just Like the Sun.' I love the overall aspect of it that makes you take a breath. It's a song that forces you just to collect yourself for a moment.
I'm Still Your Fag, one of the album's more controversial songs, is a blunt valentine of forbidden love. With lines like I swore I'd drink your piss that night, to see if I could live, Drew penned a tune filled with sincere sentiment, standing in stark contrast to the beautiful acoustic arrangement.
I wanted to tell the story about two football players who fell in love in the change room, but had to live their lives as if they're never allowed to [love each other], Drew says. I only say that because I believe in kissing boys, too. I sing it for all the boys out there. People should drink their fucking piss to see if they're alive.
Unmitigated and emotional, Broken Social Scene's release assaults the mainstream's sense of decorum and stagnated ideas about pop music. As the collective transforms from a loose association into a band, more albums brew on the horizon.
We have a bunch of records in us right now, says Drew. We'll record, we'll tour. People are into it. We have all these audiences now in different towns. We're appreciating it. It's putting us out there. We're just becoming a band. So the future for us is just remaining a band. Â©Broken Social Scene performs twice on Nov. 22: at M-Theory Records (4 p.m., free, 619-269-2963) and then with Stars and Jason Collette at The Casbah (8:30 p.m., $10, 619-232-HELL).