ALBUM REVIEW : Broken Social Scene – Hug Of Thunder
Hug Of Thunder is a compelling, warm and catchy record with loads of details to dive into
7 Years. That’s how long we have had to wait for Broken Social Scenes latest album Hug of Thunder. Has it been worth the wait ?
What’s not to like about Broken Social Scene, I can’t really find anything. This canadian music collective has pretty much always been about making catchy, yet complex indie pop songs. This is what they do, and they do it well. Their sound has always been overwhelming, full and filled to the rim with small details. This is what makes Broken Social Scene stand out from the rest in my opinion.
This is pretty much what Broken Social Scene have done this time again. They have made a compelling, warm and catchy record with loads of details to dive into. The album is all the way through, carried on the shoulders of excellent vocalists. Kevin Drew, Emily Haines, Aria Engle and Feists enchanting, empathetic and powerful vocals.
Not only the vocals are a delight on Hug of Thunder. All the small details of the different instruments that are jumping in and out of the compositions, is a trademark on Hug Of Thunder.
A broken day
This is all very typical Broken Social Scene. Really nothing new here. But then again, what’s different on this album is, that it really feels like a journey through a day of Broken Social Scene.
Starting off with the beautiful and lush Sol Luna. Feels like waking up on a silent day on the countryside, with the sun and light air greeting you to a perfect day. What a start for an album.
And then it all starts off with Halfway Home. Violins, Synths and happy chanting, just kicks off great. Then classic Broken Social Scene breakdown where rhythmic details shows off. We are really starting off strong here. I love the guitars kicking in after almost 3 minutes. Sort of tangling, chimy and just fits the song good. Finale, here comes the trombones and clarinet, very Broken Social Sceneish. I love it.
So we started off great, what now ? In kicks Protest song
Emily Haines vocals perfectly embracing a simple guitar line, that’s just beautiful. A very simple song in many ways, but with a very catchy guitar solo in the mid of the song, filled with vibrato synths in the background. The song is kind of 2 phased, after the solo, just a beautiful build up before Emily’s vocals stands in the perfect spotlight where it should be. I love this song as well.
Next up is Skyline. This reminds me of some 70’s-80’s stuff. Somehow some Electric Light Orchestra, but very wide sounding. At first it’s not really doing anything for me, but rescued by the details of the instruments and I must admit it’s very memorable. Just not the most interesting tune.
But then comes Feist on the song Stay Happy, and what a joy. Very low key, an enchanting variety song, thinking of mary poppins. Then everything is put together by cheesy drum box and cool real drums, All the wonderful details of this song fits so good, the flutes, the keytar and everyhing else. Feist’s vocal performance is perfect.
For now the album has been very good, but nothing lasts forever, next tune Vanity Pail Kids, really doesn’t do anything for me. I think it’s boring and sounds like a song that really haven’t found a direction. It’s almost the same key throughout the song, and the vocals are not very interesting, just the same chant over and over. This one is a skipper.
Hug Of Thunder
Then it’s time for the title track Hug Of Thunder. Guitars are vague and non inspiring, but when the vocals of Feist joins in, everyhing gets way better. This reminds me a bit of the classic Anthems for a 17 year old girl, but not as good as that though. I like the way that the vocals are supported by the instruments, almost dusty and crisp. When the build up kicks after approx 3 minutes, one thinks it will all end in a perfect climax, but this doesn’t really happen. This is somewhat disappointing. It’s an ok song but not more than that.
So, now there’s just been 2 average songs. What to expect then, is the album really about a few first songs and then it’s that.
The Grande Finale
Definitely not. The rest of the album just shows off in excellent chaotic power and whispers.
Starting off with Towers and Masons, what a cool song. The drums, the awkward guitar tunes, the arpeggio harps and loads of details is lifting this song. This song has the most weak vocal performance on the record, but all the tunes, quirks and sound effects, brings this home as a very cool and memorable song.
Then we have the cool slow laid back tune Victim Lover, with a nice vocal performance from Amy Milan. I really like the way they use chime samples on this one. Loads of details.
Then we have som old school Broken Social Scene as we know them on Please Take Me With You. Very groovy drums and very low key vocal performance from Kevin Drew, very empathetic. I enjoy the far away drums and the way they kick in at last. Definitely a very catchy and memorable song. Another nice detail is the chorus effect on the guitar, it gives a slight old school new wave vibe. Very nice.
Here comes the goosebumps on the next song: Gonna Get Better. Vocals are just so over the top beautiful, Ariel Engle just nails it on this one. All backed by a simple drum machine and reverbed horns. As the song progress it gets filled up with small details, small horn solos and synths, a joy to listen to.
Last song, Mouth Guards Of The Apocalypse, takes a while to get started but kick’s in beautifully with Kevin Drew screaming his lungs out. Then an ending with beautiful strings and quiet down, really sounding like nighttime coming. So a very cool ending of a pretty good album, with only a few lost songs. Listening to this album in full, sums up a day in the broken social scene universe, and this last tune ending in twilight and calm down moments, sums everything up to be a memorable record that I’m gonna listen to more.
I only had a small crisis in the mid of the album with the two songs Vanity Pail kids and the title track Hug Of Thinder. But this is just a bit like a workday when you still have hours to go, small crisis :-). The two songs are not that bad, it’s ok to listen to, but just not as engaging songs as the rest of the album.
Bottom line is, that, Broken Social Scene has made a beautiful and uplifting record, that definitely will be in my favourite ‘indie’ section of my record collection, a record to listen to on a hot summer day or on a frozen winter day, to get some warmth.
- Protest Song
- Stay Happy
- Towers And Masons
- Gonna Get Better
- Vanity Pail Kids
Check out the song ‘Stay Happy’ from Hug of Thunder here