Broken Social Scene - Let's Try the After Vol. 1 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Broken Social Scene - Let's Try the After Vol. 1

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2019-02-15
Broken Social Scene - Let's Try the After Vol. 1
Broken Social Scene - Let's Try the After Vol. 1

When Canadian collective Broken Social Scene announced their reunion in 2016, after a 5-year hiatus, a big looming cloud on their future was finally cleared. But with it came the expectation that they’d fizzle out. A year later, Hug of Thunder stormed into record stores and streaming services and ended up being a wonderous exploration of the times. Color me impressed with the announcement of this new EP Let’s Try the After Vol. 1, because I fully expected the band to retreat into hibernation again.

It’s hard to judge an EP, especially when it’s obviously part of a larger scale of releases (hence the Vol. 1). On the contrary, BSS has usually been ahead of the curve. Before it became widely utilized, synthesizers and electronic music played a role in the band’s repertoire. In 2017 a lot of bands returned with new material for the first time in what seemed like forever – Fleet Foxes, Slowdive, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and The xx, just to name a few – Broken Social Scene’s return elicited the smallest excitement, but to me ended up delivering a better album than most of those (nothing quite tops that Slowdive record still).

So, the expectations for Let’s Try the After are small, but the anthemic choruses that became hallmark BSS-isms, are all present, most notably on “Boyfriends,” which fits into that classic BSS territory, like something off of their self-titled sophomore record. This is after two mostly instrumental cuts – “The Sweet Sea” is less than a minute long, but “Remember Me Young” is a jammy piece of You Forgot It In People-era cruising. Unlike the other multi-member Canadian band Arcade Fire, BSS doesn’t forgo their natural instincts for ABBA-inflected pomposity. When you tune in for a BSS record, whether LP or EP, it’s expected to have certain sounds and this first EP is full of their traditional sounds. The great part is that it’s still just as welcoming and warm as the first listen to their debut record.

“1972” brings Ariel Engle to the front, which is smart for the band as core past members like Feist have moved onto their own projects. Engle’s powerful presence made Hug of Thunder all the warmer and more melodic – this is not a discredit to Brendan Canning or Kevin Drew, both are always wonderful – but Ms. Engle’s vocals have so much body to them, and “1972” continues that trend. A month ago, a video surfaced of the band performed on The Strombo Show and “1972” was part of that show, in addition to “Can’t Find My Heart” (not present on this EP, but I’d assume on the way), and the Feist infused classic “Lover’s Spit.”

The last cut on Let’s Try The After is the first released single, “All I Want,” and it’s cleverly put at the end as it’s the only track that deviates from the traditional BSS sound a little bit. It’s more drum and beat-based and acts as a solid capping to this taster of things to come. This EP works because there is no dominating presence, it essentially captures everything we love about Broken Social Scene into 20 minutes – a roaring instrumental, the big band anthems, and the collaboration. While short, Let’s Try the After Vol. 1 is a successful teaser of what’s to come, and based on this, there are good things coming.

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