Spotlight: Broken Social Scene
It was the wet dream of any music critic come to life. Give an unknown band a glowing review, and immediately it becomes the Next Big Thing. That's what happened early last year when Pitchfork Media sang the praises of You Forgot It in People, an expansive indie-pop tour de force by Toronto's Broken Social Scene.
This time they were right. From the Sonic Youth jilt of "Cause = Time" to the endlessly catchy "Stars and Sons," "Almost Crimes," and the breathy art-girl "Anthems for a 17-Year-Old Girl," not to mention the lush, introspective "Lover's Spit," Broken Social Scene has created one of the most resonant albums of the new millennium. Their return to SXSW is somewhat of a victory lap.
"It was a classic, stereotypical festival show," says an animated Kevin Drew, the band's primary singer, about SXSW 03. "That's where we got money and labels and agents a lot of the people we're working with today."
Broken Social Scene is an incestuous collective featuring members of several emerging Canadian art-rock and underground pop groups, like Do Make Say Think, Metric, and Stars, whose Heart album is also quite the revelation. With both Metric and Stars at SXSW, Drew says there may be up to 14 members onstage when Broken Social Scene plays.
"It's not as glorious as it sounds. Really, we're a fivepiece or a sixpiece. If we're not a sixpiece, we're a sevenpiece. If we're not a sevenpiece, we're an eightpiece. If we're not an eightpiece, we're a 14-piece."
When Broken Social Scene first played live in the Toronto area, they concocted new songs for every gig, never playing the same song twice.
"When we sat down to do You Forgot It in People, we had a list of 72 songs," says Drew. "We kinda came in with our heads chopped off and our hearts trying to replace our heads. It just all fell into place after a grueling, beautiful, disgusting seven months."