Have you ever had one of those friends that pissed you off all the time, yet whom you could never seem to hate for very long? At the very moment when you would decide that that was the last straw, they would do something that redeemed them infinitely in your eyes. Broken Social Scene is a lot like that. Some songs get on your nerves at first, but then Broken Social Scene busts out. Every song is a triumph all its own, and as different as can be. Most bands have a certain style that seems to keep their music from exploration, but Broken Social Scene is like England in the 1600s, planting flags in every sort of terrain imaginable. They do, of course, have a distinct sound, but I dare you to pin it down to one or two things. Just when you think they're setting off into territory they've already covered, they prove you wrong. You settle in for the trip, blush, and offer your captains a silent apology.
Even "Lover's Spit," one of the best songs off the last album, is redone here so that it's almost unrecognizable. It's a lot less raunchy, more tender, and even though the tempo is no different than the original, it sounds like it's slower simply because of the way they treat it. Honestly, the song doesn't have quite the impact that it had in its first form; it is more slick and radio-friendly on this album (if you could ever call a song that blatantly mentions fellatio "radio-friendly"). But ?'s beautiful voice imbues it with a little more lament, and the piano makes it more melancholy. In this collection, "Lover's Spit" sounds more like someone regretting the things that other people do than struggling with the skeletons in their own closet.
"Time=Cause" will take care of that for you, though. Through most of the song, you feel like you're wandering down the hallways of an insane asylum. The background screams and breathy, wordless singing echo off the walls. At the same time, the music on top of it is you wondering whether you belong there or are just visiting. It is dreamy and ethereal. This insane atmosphere is as frightening as heights are to me: the reason I fear it so much is because it is so enticing. Who wouldn't want to live in a perfect fantasy world of their own creation for the rest of their lives if they could?
I think my perfect fantasy world would sound something like "Hallmark," though. It would be just challenging enough to keep my interest, but unhurried at the same time, so I would have the time to enjoy the little things I forget about too often. The only sense of time would be from the beat of my heart rather than the mechanical ticks of a clock. It would snow often. But there is a reason that insanity is not a good thing. This initially delightful world would probably evolve into something like "Da Da Dada," which sounds at first like an LSD-induced dreamscape and quickly turns nervous with indiscernable background voices. It finishes with wary piano notes that are distinguished from the rest of the song as if the paranoia has kicked in for real.
The only complaint I have is that these songs for the most part seem unfinished; they're a little anorexic. It's like reading a story with a bunch of phrases masquerading as sentences. You get the point, but it still feels incomplete. This is definitely some good work by Broken Social Scene, but it's not their best. 7/10 -- Eden Hemming Rose (25 May, 2005)