Broken Social Scene
Feel Good Lost
(Arts & Crafts; 2001/2004)
By Todd Aman | 10 February 2004
Remember how the Notwist re-released their dated crap-core album, Nook, for American listeners after Neon Golden blew our minds with its elegant glitch-pop? Remember listening to Nook and wanting to tear out your eyeballs in dismay? I know that I do! For me, Nook immediately prompted two thoughts. First, "Lordie, this sucks;" second, "This band has come a long, long way." Anyway, after the phenomenal success of You Forgot it in People, Broken Social Scene have re-released their debut album, Feel Good Lost, for US audiences. Unlike Nook, Feel Good Lost doesn’t make we want to rip out my retinas (actually, the album’s quite good). However, Broken Social Scene have come a long, long way since.
Where are the vocals? You Forgot it in People prominently featured sometimes soulful, often pornographic and always killer lyrics. On the other hand, Feel Good Lost lacks almost any vocals. The few vocals that do appear, on "Passport Radio" for example, are electronically manipulated to the point that they serve the same purpose as the instruments. They introduce an interesting texture, but they’re not the focus of the song.
Where are the melodies, riffs, and hooks? Well, though the riffs and hooks are few and far between, the melodies certainly are not. You just have to work harder to catch the melodies, because they’re spread across many measures and take time to develop — for example, check out "Love and Mathmatics." The simple melody begins with the bass, but gains complexity upon introduction of the guitar. It swells; it fades; it’s beautiful. In "Blues for Uncle Gibb," the band passes the melody back and forth between the guitar, piano, and harmonica almost every three notes. Naturally, breaking the melody into pieces and delegating these pieces to different instruments makes the melody difficult to detect.
Where are the balls-out rockers? You Forgot it in People burst passionately from your speakers with impossible speed, begging for you to crank up that dial. Well, sorry friends, Broken Social Scene kept their balls inside their pants for this album. Every track maintains generally the same sleepy tempo, yielding positive and negative results. The consistent tempo allows Broken Social Scene to mix things up in other ways, creating tension between melody and texture, electronics and organics. On the other hand, the constant tempo and spare melody make difficult any prolonged, close listening to the album. You either play this album as musical wall-paper or you struggle to extract the melodies with pliers.
Of course, I had trouble writing this review. I love You Forgot it in People more than I love two chicks at one time. It’s a close call, but it’s true. My advice to you: buy Feel Good Lost and don’t compare it to You Forgot it in People. At all. Accept the album on its own terms (spare, purely instrumental, ambient post-rock) and you’ll probably end up loving it.
P.S. Yes, I know that I’ve been comparing the two albums to one another throughout this entire review. I’m a big fat hypocrite. Deal.
P.P.S. Nook sucks. There, two reviews for the price of one.