What can be said about Broken Social Scene that hasn’t already been mentioned in the countless number of articles and reviews written about them in the past couple of years? Yes, they really ARE a super-group, with members who have found great success in their other musical pursuits. Yes, they do make highly triumphant, grand indie rock anthems. And yes, they do put on one hell of a live show.
But what really should be the reason for their winning of the Polaris prize is their sense of community and commitment to the Canadian music scene. That isn’t to say that the other nominees are not patriotic in their own respects, but in the recent years Broken Social Scene has, by way of their other exports, has brought tons of attention to Canada. Two of the most culturally prevalent examples would be Metric contributing a song to the Twilight: Eclipse soundtrack, and Feist’s “1,2,3,4” iPod explosion into the mainstream. Such feats should not be overlooked: invariably while capturing the attention of a young teenager going to the movies or an older adult looking to purchase a music player they may find out that these artists are from Canada, and also don’t sound a thing like Bryan Adams, Celine Dion or Nickleback.
Forgiveness Rock Record is just another album that cements the fact that the band make earnest, respectable, well crafted music. It has only been out for a few months, but has already boosted the profile of the band even further. As a whole, the album seems much more free and sparse. This allows each guitar line, vocal melody and percussive element to breathe and stand out more. Broken Social Scene continue their tradition of releasing albums full of diversity; from the electro-pop of ‘All to All’, to the anthemic ‘World Sick’, to the somber ‘Sweetest Kill’, this album has material for everybody to enjoy. The aforementioned ‘Sweetest Kill’ is one example of the band exercising restraint in order to let the mood of the song shine, and it is in this restraint that one can see their talent in controlling a listener’s feelings.
Broken Social Scene work as a community: each member contributing a small part that when played together makes something huge. This sense of community translates to their live shows, with Kevin Drew usually informing the crowd that “This is for all of us”. They don’t perform to an audience who is there to be entertained; they perform with the audience to create an experience for everybody.
To promote and celebrate the release of the Forgiveness Rock Record, Broken Social Scene played 4 free shows throughout Toronto. The most impressive fact was that these shows all occurred in one day. These mini concerts took place at the various record stores that helped distribute the band’s music and promote them in their early days. Performances at Rotate This, Soundscapes, Criminal Records and Sonic Boom! were a way for the band to thank and give back to the city and locations that helped push them to the success they have today.
In a recent televised performance and interview, Kevin Drew made note that they aren’t in it to be selfish, that the goal of the band is to turn it into something charitable. “Eventually one has to take the “’me’ and the ‘we’ out of the music and go for ‘us’”. To name them the winner of the Polaris Prize will obviously be to reward the band for their talent but also to commemorate their support and love for the Canadian music community.