Thursday, January 12, 2006

Broken Social Remix

I'm not really one of those dudes who has a "favorite band" or a "favorite album", I think there's way too much good stuff out there to narrow down my musical taste in such a fashion, but if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick someone, Broken Social Scene would be one of the top contenders. Their new self-titled record has been doomed to occupy the unfortunate position of "the album after You Forgot It In People", and as such has had to live up to the (probably unrealistic) expectations of pretty much anybody into indie rock at all.

The big sticking point, for most people, seems to be the way the album is mixed- I've read complaints ranging from "too dense" to "muddy" to "what the fuck is going on with this shit?" And while I think it's truly a wonderful record, having seen these songs played live I do have to agree to some extent- there's a lot going in this record. The band has been very forthcoming about the agony that mixing BSS was, and you can tell in interviews that for many members of the band/collective, the album isn't so much finished as it is done, both for the sake of being done and for maintaining the band's collective sanity.

So yeah, it's not as "good" as You Forgot It In People. But before you write it off entirely (and frankly, go see them live before you make any judgements about their worth as a band. I'm not one for religious experiences, but they come pretty damn close), do me a favor- invest in a good pair of headphones and listen to Broken Social Scene all the way through.

I recently got myself a fancy-pants pair of Sennheiser headphones. They're great- excellent clarity, great frequency response, and an almost-eerie sense of "space" in music that you just don't get with cheaper gear. I'm listening to BSS through them for the first time as I type this, and

HOLY GOD!

The album finally makes sense to me! You can literally hear every single thing in the mix, with an immediacy that transforms the songs from overwhelmingly dense to multilayered, psychedelic, and fascinating.

These are pop songs buried in a Matisse. They're rock anthems wrapped in a Christo fabric installation. They're Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. and, yes, You Forgot It In People tossed in a blender, pureed, and baked into a torte the likes of which Iron Chef Sakai could barely concieve. Okay maybe I'm getting a little too excited with these metaphors, but you get the idea.

Fuck Sufjan Stevens, this is the best album of 2005.