Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Broken Social Scene - Feel Good Lost (2001)

4.0 ★/8.0 - 8.9

Broken Social Scene is best known for their sophomore effort, You Forgot It In People, which became acknowledged by most critics as a modern masterpiece filled with masterfully gritty and passionate indie rock and pop. Meanwhile, their early work usually gets overlooked. Hopefully that will change, however, with the reissue of their debut album.

Those looking for the immediate brilliance of You Forgot It In People are gonna come away from this one underwhelmed, because Feel Good Lost is comprised almost solely of instrumental soundtrack-like pieces; vulnerable, affecting soundscapes sculpted from shimmering guitar tones and atmosphere. It’s no surprise considering that in the time from this album to their “sophomore jump”, their band membership expanded from 2 to 20. The mood here is less garage and more intimate. Vocals only appear in two songs, and in one of them, they’re so warbled and drenched in reverb that they resemble something closer to sound effects than a human live voice (Think “Anthems For A 17 Year Old” except less structured). But even though that very track, “Passport Radio” is a major highlight, those willing to let their minds daze off into the ever pulsing drones will be just as impressed by the instrumental bulk of the album because this isn’t just dull and redundant ambiance. The songs don’t wander; they drift with purpose. Subtle textures hold the listener’s attention as instruments drift in and out without any weight. In recent years, post rock bands have begun to follow the same patterns: quiet, loud, quiet, loud, repeat. But Feel Good Lost reminds us that songs don’t need to catch your ear to necessarily impress. Admittedly, the diversity and sprawling brilliance exhibited on later efforts is clearly missing. There’s simply not enough “oomph” or "balls-on-the-floor" impressiveness (even though, ironically, their post-YFFIP material has too much of that). But there are some late players which break from the standard fare and succeed wildly, such as the reflective, chugging “Stomach Song” (with sing-speaking that, oddly enough, recalls the disturbing online web-cartoon, Salad Fingers) or the joyous closer of the set, “Cranley’s Gonna Make It” which foreshadows the shimmery tropical styling of “Pacific Theme” and “Looks Just Like The Sun”.

This music is strictly for isolation; to explore with headphones, listen to on long train rides through the countryside, or fall to sleep to. Sure, they went on to do something much more diversified, but this has got enough beauty and awe to speak for itself. Anyone interested in post rock, ambiance, or just hopeful, calming, instrumental music needs to own this.

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