Kevin Drew Broken Social Scene Presents: Spirit If... Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Broken Social Scene's co-founder releases his first solo project.

Jim Young 2007

Kevin Drew is, by night, a leading light of Canadian art rockers, Broken Social Scene, whose reputation grew in a direct relationship to the size of their troupe. By the time of their third outing in 2005 they numbered 19; many of them stars of the Canadian music scene in their own right. They took a break back in 2006, but now the two founding members are releasing their own projects of which this is the first.


Since they hail from Canada and have a similarly polyphonic approach to music it is hardly surprising that BSS have been compared to The Arcade Fire despite predating them by a couple of years. With contributions from many BSSers, Drew’s album retains the many-layered, multi-instrumental sound, and the opener “Farewell to the Pressure Kids” has all the thunder and bluster of their more famous Canadian cousins. However, once that storm blows over things get mostly gentler, as if someone has tossed a bit of Belle and Sebastien into the mix to lighten it up.


Right from its handclap intro “Broke Me Up” is a gentle beauty full of gentle piano, muted horn, and whispery song. “Gang Bang Suicide” is simply a fabulous song, somehow both delicate and insistent. Single “TBTF” and swooning “F@cked Up Kid” display Drew’s perverse penchant for trying to nail the perfect indie pop tune so as to despoil it with the F word.


While it is these graceful musical turns that will likely draw the indie masses affection Drew does bust a few rockin’ numbers too. On “Lucky Ones” he throws some fierce Bruce Springsteen shapes and the uplifting chorus of “Backed Out On The ...”: ‘Everyone can write this song ... but they can’t write you and me’ is something you probably have to be there for. Such posturing is usually a bit of a turn off, but the tongue in cheek and slightly off-kilter nature of these tracks give them a peculiar allure all of their own.


The album is not immediate, it’s a grower. It requires a bit of love before it will love you. It’s probably due to the wilfully rough edges, the many layers and perhaps a few too many sketches. But it is with the many beautiful touches that are placed just right that it wins you over, and I’ll probably be finding its hidden treasures long after this review is over.

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