10 Best Broken Social Scene Songs
Most discussions of Broken Social Scene revolve around Metric, Stars, Feist and the various other projects related to the collective. But over the last couple of years, the Toronto band’s extended hiatus has highlighted just how vital a presence they themselves have been. Through long concerts filled with spontaneity and a sense of community, bandleader Kevin Drew has managed to turn this group into icons of independent rock music. In honor of their brief reunion — which, in turn, came in honor of the 10-year anniversary of their record label, Arts & Crafts — we present the 10 Best Broken Social Scene Songs.
‘Stars and Sons’
Though Kevin Drew is the center of Broken Social Scene, the other primary songwriter is Brendan Canning, whose fatherly stage presence is a perfect foil to Drew’s boyish charms, allowing them to meet in a band-geek middle from which incredible music results. The best song Canning sings lead on is ‘Stars and Sons,’ whose handclap segment is a highlight of any BSS experience.
Kevin Drew’s semi-solo album, which still featured help from the band, hence the “Broken Social Scene Presents” banner, is an underappreciated gem. ‘Lucky Ones’ is a standout, and the video is almost essential viewing, as Kevin Drew buys 600 shots for the crowd and leads them in a ritual to bring them together. The sense of community defines Broken Social Scene, and Drew’s special way of viewing the world shines through.
Of the many female voices that Kevin Drew — with Justin Peroff — has written for, Emily Haines of Metric gets treated with the most care. On all three Broken Social Scene albums, Haines is given one fantastic song to lead, and she never disappoints. ‘Swimmers’ is her moments on LP No. 2, and she manages to add her self into every lyrical inflection, the most charming being the start and finish, which are both as loose and casual as can be.
‘World Sick,’ No. 7 on our list of the 10 Best Broken Social Scene Songs, was the first single on their most recent LP. On first listen, ‘World Sick’ felt comforting, as if it took hearing a great BSS single to realize how much you had been missing them. Everything is present: guitars, sex talk, loose jamming and hooks that stay with you for the long run.
This song sounds title sounds gross, and given Drew’s history as a writer, it is not a surprise that is goes sexually explicit places. Drew is a blunt lyricist who never pulls punches. What’s great about him is how he can be so lyrically juvenile yet emerge with works of striking beauty.
Emily Haines’ most recent BSS offering is deceptively complex, with the purposeful play on words showing a sense of humor but also touching on the dynamics of human relationships. “You used to call,” “You used. To call…” and “You used, to call” all have different meanings when sung by Haines, and even if it’s the kind of song bound to delight writers, the crescendo near the end should be effective for anyone.
‘Gang Bang Suicide’
It’s possible the prettiest song Kevin Drew has ever written is called ‘Gang Bang Suicide.’
Feist is easily the most commercially successful member of Broken Social Scene, but her biggest contributions to the group are a far cry from her solo material. Her chorus of rocker ‘7/4 (Shoreline),’ No. 3 on our list of the Best Broken Social Scene Songs, is fierce, with distorted vocals that give her voice an edge newer fans would never see coming. The horn section kicks in at the end to make the song truly special.
‘Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl’
Emily Haines takes lead on ‘Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl,’ and she’ll never have a better song to make her own. The repetition, the strings, the overall build: It’s unlike anything the band would make again, and that’s fine. Some songs don’t deserve a peer.
‘Major Label Debut (Fast)’
If you’ve seen Drew and the gang on one of their best nights, No. 1 on our Best Broken Social Scene Songs list might have been the last tune you heard. There is a joy to the lyrics, which give a sense that being a band is surreal experience. Regardless, the line “translation: means I love you” puts all the other words in the background. The ultimate feeling is that Drew just wants to express his love for his fans, his band and everyone else.