The continued existence of Broken Social Scene is astonishing; it’s alumni of over thirty members is constantly shifting to accommodate solo projects, other commitments, and family life.
The moment their seven year hiatus came to an end is a welcome surprise. Their silence was shattered by one of the band’s greatest, most heartfelt records to date is a miracle.
The album’s title is an almost impossibly accurate declaration of the album’s intent; it plays like an embrace, warm and loving, sheltering you from the storm. Togetherness is perhaps an unsurprising central message given that some,fifteen members of Broken Social Scene (both old and new) contributed to the creation of this album, but there’s so much conviction in every note that you buy completely into it.
Also true to form, the varied music is as a result of its incredibly diverse lineage. “Halfway Home” is a climactic, fist-pumping anthem for happiness, where the title track and others like “Stay Happy” are more laid back, but no less resonant. “Victim Lover” and “Mouthguards of the Apocalypse” are moodier affairs that affirm the album’s central theme of connection by telling more troublesome tales of what happens when we can’t connect. Personal standouts include the huge rock anthem “Vanity Pail Kids”, and the mellower, guitar driven “Towers and Masons”.
In spite of its incredibly varied range of influences (everything from Bowie-esque pop to Post-Rock ambience can be heard here), Hug of Thunder never feels inconsistent; there’s a coherency of vision between the record’s vast lineup of contributors, so much so that it almost feels as if this is the album the band was always going to write. I for one am very grateful that they got around to it.
Hug of Thunder is available now, and Broken Social Scene will be touring in support of the album starting in early September, finishing in Toronto on November 3rd supporting Arcade Fire at the Air Canada Centre.