Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew - Spirit If...

Broken Social Scene is a fantastic indie chamber pop group that typically has anywhere between 8 to 20 musicians performing at a given time. One of it's founding members Kevin Drew has never been the most marketable individual to emerge from the Canadian gang; that has been left to Leslie Feist, Emily Haines, or Amy Millan. With their solo careers burgeoning, Mr. Drew concocted a plan to eventually showcase the members with the help of the rest of the band. Essentially allowing each lesser-known member to step into the spotlight. Kevin Drew grew up in Toronto and got his creative start attending high school at the prestigious Etobicoke School of the Arts where he also met future friends and BSS members Ms. Haines and Ms. Millan. The best description of how BSS typically sound is a collection of all the members influences which are too numerous to name, but they tend to have an enormous sound, complication orchestrations, unique song structures, and interesting (to say the least) production from David Newfeld. They employ violins, guitars, horns, woodwinds, drums, keys and everything else but the proverbial kitchen sink.

As a Kevin Drew coming out party, Spirit If... really sounds like a BSS album, as should be expected. While not quite as beautifully chaotic as previous BSS works, Spirit If allows Kevin Drew the freedom to direct and arrange things how he would like, rather than yielding to the whims of the masses. While this is merely supposition, the album speaks for itself. Mr. Drew is at the forefront of almost the entire album and with his name plastered on the album art it's safe to assume he took great care in presenting this as solely his idea backed by his friends and bandmates in BSS. Recorded over the course of two years with members flying in and out to record various pieces, it's pretty astounding that this pastiche of sound making can be puzzled together to create such an excellent expanse of music. In addition, the 60+ minute length should be celebrated as it has become a rare sight to have bands fill more than half of a typical 80min. cd. While the amount of music is not necessarily indicitive of quality, Kevin Drew allows himself the freedom to experiment with songs ranging from 3 to 7 minutes depending on his message (no matter how convoluted it may be). While his lyrics occasionally make little sense, the choruses are almost always blunt and elementary. For example, on "Bodhi Sappy Weekend" mind-bending lyrics include, "With our clothes on fire/ I guess we both can wait/ I built an ark for sure," while the refrain explains, "please don't scratch me out" which is heart-breaking in its candor as it brings the song back to Earth. All in all, Kevin Drew has essentially created another great BSS album in which he can finally receive credit, where credit is due. Album reviews from Pitchfork, AMG, and Stylus.

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