BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE Hug Of Thunder gets 8/10

Broken Social Scene
Hug of Thunder
Arts & Crafts

8/10

Their first record in seven years after a hiatus, Canadian musical collective Broken Social Scene are back with latest LP Hug Of Thunder. If you have forgotten what Broken Social Scene are all about, this record will shake you to your core and awaken the comatose Broken Social Scene fan to consciousness to bath in thunderous choruses and catchy, sharp vocals.

The sound of the record gives off the impression that little has changed. They never drastically lurch to some other stylistic direction. Hug Of Thunder proves that at its core, Broken Social Scene can pick from any moment where they have left off and not compromise on their stylistic flavour for the sake of the passage of time.

Sol Luna sets the tone of the album with a grandiose beginning, breaking into a dawn and crash of strings whilst carrying over a heady, majestic, daybreak of sound. Halfway Home feels like a massive audible announcement of the return of Broken Social Scene, a crossbred brass and alt-rock group on steroids, the gang vocals bringing about a chaotic, frenetic sound.

Protest Song sung by Metric’s Emily Haines is a great lo-fi rock song, feeling like a light track on the album, the bridge rises like a neat pyramid – containing an enticing charisma which again the vocal harmonies artfully illustrate. The reverbed vibes of Skyline make way for some ethereal qualities on the album. Containing a rapid rhythm amidst a display of shattering, reverbed guitar chords combined with the lyrics “You’ll never be like me/I shouldn’t have come at all” pushing out some wistful emotion.

Stay Happy kicks off as if it’s just a regular Broken Social Scene jam session with instruments slowly finding their footing. Featuring a funked out beat and bouncy bass line, it picks up after the second chorus where a burgeoning wall of sound just erupts into a crescendo of synth. Vanity Pail Kids features elements of quick paced jazz and a pastiche of genres.

Eponymous track Hug Of Thunder feels like a departure from its namesake, kicking off as a stripped backing track featuring the solo vocals of one Leslie Feist. Containing programmed qualities and orchestrally poetic in feel, it has a deft, contemporary edge. Raising the bar with an eruption of sound towards the end of the track, Hug of Thunder finishes up as a pleasing indie hit.

Towers and Masons breaks away by coming off as breezy and modern, containing backing vocals reminiscent of New York Indie band The Drums whilst Victim Lover strings along some aspects of jazz, with vocals lyrically playing the blame game.

Charging to the end with Please Take Me With You, which feels like an ode to love, and Gonna Get Better, a lo-fi, pleasing pop track with a hint of electronic production, Hug Like Thunder then finishes much the way it started, with Mouth Guards of the Apocalypse ending in a crashing crescendo of instrumentation which strikes the ears like lightning.

It’s thunderous, grandiose and majestic. Hug Of Thunder is a long awaited and impressive return from Broken Social Scene and is bound to shake a few nostalgic fans.

JOSEPH WILSON

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