For many years, Broken Social Scene were more of a concept than a band, and that was a big part of their appeal.
Success and constant touring forced them to pare down their entourage, firm up the lineup and become an actual band. Forgiveness Rock Record is the sound of the band that became, doing an impression of the band that never was. It's tempting to hate it for failing to recapture their earlier unhinged, chaotic glory. But doing so would be to miss out on how good a band they've become (despite themselves).
The thing to remember is that the whole ever-changing collective idea was more of marketing concept than anything else. Dozens of guests contributed to past albums, but many of them couldn't even identify their own contributions on the finished records. At their core, BSS were always more straightforward than they were willing to admit. On this record, they seem to have accepted and worked with, rather than against, that.
Instead of laying down a million parts and editing them into songs, they entered the studio with tracks already written, and got Tortoise's John McEntire to record them in a way that sounds more live off the floor. Sure, that veil of confusion and mystery has been lifted, but what we find underneath is a real band who can write some pretty great songs.
Top track: Texico Bitches
Broken Social Scene play four instore gigs this Sunday (May 9), at Sonic Boom, Soundscapes, Rotate This, Criminal Records, and play Olympic Island June 19.