Broken Social Scene 2.0


Broken Social Scene, a Canadian indie-rock band, is older than I am.  I’ve listened to them for as long as I can remember. That’s why I was initially skeptical of Hug of Thunder, their new album released in July 2017. The band’s last album was released in 2010, and I had grown to love their unique and distinctive sound. When the new album was released, there was fear that the beloved Broken Social Scene wasn’t going to be the same. However, Hug of Thunder is a perfect continuation of their style, adding to their already impressive body of work.

Hug of Thunder features a range of songs, from the ambient opening track “Sol Luna,” their rock-pop single “Halfway Home” and the all-out synth and brass extravaganza “Mouth Guards of the Apocalypse.” Like their fellow Canadian band Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene is often labeled “Baroque pop,” classified by the large band size and unusual instrumentation. The band consists of anywhere up to 15 members at one time and features conventional rock instruments such as guitars, bass, keyboards and drums as well as trumpets, saxophones, violins, sitar and sarangi. Although the band that plays on Hug of Thunder is slightly diminished in size, Broken Social Scene has maintained its richly textured, multi-layered and dynamic sound.

The permanent members and founders of the band, Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew, have done a phenomenal job creating the songs for the album. Though each of the 12 songs on the album are incredible in their own right, there are a few that particularly stand out.  

The more acoustic song, “Skyline,” is an amazing track, with Kevin Drew on vocals. The harmonies float above the melody and the keyboards weave in and out of the song, making this song a memorable anthem. “Protest Song” is another great song, sang by Emily Haines, a successful solo artist as well as a member of Broken Social Scene. Her smooth, rich voice immediately captivates her listeners. The title track, “Hug of Thunder,” features Feist on vocals, an early member of the band who has a successful solo career as well. Feist’s full, piercing voice matches the prominent bass line and brass section featured throughout the song.  The echo-like guitar in the background enhances the storytelling quality of this song and the catchy chorus is guaranteed to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day (in a good way!).I was so impressed by this album that in late September I went to see Broken Social scene in concert. They were equally amazing on stage and I will never forget the experience. Hug of Thunder is an amazing album that perfectly compliments Broken Social Scene’s sound. If you have not already listened to it, what are you waiting for?