As much a creative collective as an indie rock band, Broken Social Scene is a Toronto-based ensemble whose flexible lineup has included some of the best and best-known musicians from the city's left-of-center music community. Emerging in 2001 with Feel Good Lost, the group, whose membership has been as small as two and as large as 15, has created an eclectic body of work that's explored many stylistic avenues, from film music and ambient minimalism to brightly orchestrated Baroque pop, with highlights arriving via the Juno Award-winning You Forgot It in People (2003) and Broken Social Scene (2005), and the chart-topping Hug of Thunder (2017). Artists and acts associated with the group include Feist, Metric, Do Make Say Think, Amy Millan, Stars, Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton, Jason Collett, K.C. Accidental, and Apostle of Hustle.
When he looks at the state of the world today, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew sees a crumbling society that keeps getting worse. In the seven years since the Toronto indie-rock collective’s last album, the trajectory of our national discourse would seem to support Drew’s cynical worldview. And yet, rather than trot out dirges about society’s ruin or offer direct socio-political commentary, the band’s long-awaited Hug of Thunder simply drives home the message that we must weather the storm of a fracturing, social media-obsessed culture by forging and preserving meaningful human connections.
Railing against modern technology and its myriad diversions may ultimately be a lost cause, but Broken Social Scene still seeks to remind us that there’s no substitute for genuine human interaction. Hug of Thunder doesn’t promise catharsis or stoke up righteous anger, but instead offers both dark clouds and silver linings through the band’s unique juxtaposition of anxiety and hope.
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