Listening to this album is like giving up a really long struggle to make sense of things. It's a great big glimmer of hope, for everything from the Toronto music scene to modern rock and electronic pop, and, may I even say, the future of independent music. As I listened for the first time, I was stunned by the second track ("KC Accidental"), which unfolded its thick math-rock energy, eventually bursting into joyous vocals and strings. My heart actually started to beat a little faster.
You Forgot It In People, an album that generated noticeable albeit underground hype in Toronto upon its release, has barely registered a blip on the broader radar. Toronto's music community is fairly closely knit, and everybody's worked with everybody else at some point, which may explain the new album's visibility. Broken Social Scene truly embody this trend.
Though it'd probably be impossible to untangle the intricate connections that make up this band/collective/super-group, it is essentially built around the core of Brendon Canning (formerly of KC Accidental) and Kevin Drew (formerly of By Divine Right). The rest of 10-piece includes members of Treble Charger, Do Make Say Think, local band Raising the Fawn, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and various other musicians, actors and record-store employees. In true collective fashion, the liner notes fail to allot precise roles to each member, a valuable reminder of what really matters in the end.
It would be lazy to label this album a mishmash, because it's so much more than that. "Eclectic" is overused, as is "genre-bending"; neither aptly conveys the intelligence and enthusiasm that so clearly went into the album's creation. There's a very noticeable energy that permeates all the songs, driving one into another, an energy that could be lamely summed up as "fun," although not in a foolish sense.
The variety of talent means not only wonderful instrumentation but some inspiring singing as well. "Almost Crimes (Radio Kills Remix)" is a Strokes-like rockout that isn't afraid to show a sexy feminine side by incorporating some warbling and passionate female vocals. "Lover's Spit" evokes a smitten Thom Yorke (or would that be Coldplay's Chris Martin?), while the timid "I'm Still Your Fag" reminds me of an Arab Strap song that never was. Mellower-than-mellow grooves keep things rolling on "Looks Just Like the Sun" and "Pacific Theme," with the downtempo mood pervading even the rocking-est moments.
The oddest and, in my mind, most memorable track is the mournful yet strangely sunny "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl." Over smooth strings and banjos, a sweet and synth-like girl's voice repeats "you used to be one of the rotten ones and I liked you for that/ now you're all gone got your makeup on and you're not comin' back." The song is kind of quirky and sad, slightly saccharine but ultimately really damn good. The production on this track, as on the rest of the album, is impeccable, and dizzying on headphones. Producer David Newfeld has created an ambience that goes through many forms along with the songs, moving from casual basement rehearsal ("Stars and Sons" and "Looks Just Like the Sun") to laptop landscapes (opener "Capture the Flag") to concert hall grandeur ("Shampoo Suicide").
It's easy to listen to the album and pick out the various members' influences. "Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries" smacks of Do Make Say Think, for example, while there are hints of GY!BE in "Shampoo Suicide." But it's just as easy to ignore your preconceptions and enjoy the album for the mindbendingness of it all. The most shocking aspect about You Forgot It in People is just how easily everything seems to be accomplished. Every note and transition is smooth and effortless, and there is such a wealth of brilliantly executed music. The musical unity on this album restores my faith in local music scenes. It's enough to make your heart beat a little faster.