Broken Social Scene
Forgiveness Rock Record
Broken Social Scene are an idea as much as they are a band - a collective band with no single direction and a lot of musicians, Forgiveness Rock Record sees them trim down the number to a more cohesive level, although there is never any doubt that the album is a stitched together affair. Coming at indie from the ecstatic, loosely melodic side, Broken Social Scene do provide the odd goosebump moment in their music, and occasionally a song breaks through the general drift around the various contributors' songs - here it is The Sweetest Kill, and Forced To Love: one, a lovely ballad, the other a very good indie song. It is still hard to recommend BSS to anyone who isn't already in their club. Forgiveness Rock Record is tight relative to their other work, but it is still a collection of ideas.
ACE rating 7/10
The Black Keys
The Black Keys have undergone so much experimentation since breaking through that it was inevitable that they would get to this point. Drummer Patrick Carney's side projects and label suggested a massively interesting musical brain, while guitarist Dan Auerbach's solo work took a sidestep from the thick bluesy funky rock that the pair broke through with.
That wonderful sludgy funk is still apparent on their sixth studio album, Brothers, as it becomes apparent that the soul rock of 70s America feeds the pair a delicious backdrop. Brothers, as a title, is meant to suggest that the pair still feel like a pair, despite their meanderings. What there is a lot less of is blues, although this sounds like the Attack and Release album if it had kept going at its departures from the 'sound'. There is falsetto, Booker T-like organ, Cream-like rock, and a whole lot of soul. The pair have one of the best modern musical legacies in the 5 albums to date, and Brothers proves it is built to last.
ACE rating 9/10
Proof, if it were needed, that the UK is still prone to giving hype time to bands that manage only to show an interesting look and a hook. The shame here is that frontman, Darwin Deez, does have an interesting voice, and the band is capable of some Vampire Weekend-like spiky rhythms, and the occasional hook (singles Radar Detector and Constellations) that position them as a more electronic Julian Casablancas. The challenge is that there are dozens of great bands or artists in the same space: Kelley Stoltz, Devin Davis, Billy Harvey… (Who? Exactly…) This is a great record, taken in isolation - Deez is a better vocalist than Casablancas, and there is a good loose-limbed energy everywhere; the casiotone synths also seem perfect for what they're doing, the wittiness of the lyrics contributes. The shame would be if this debut were taken for more than what it is - a very interesting first go 'round - and expectations were changed because of that.
ACE rating 7/10