When songwriter Kevin Drew’s beard-obscured smile peaks out from behind his Broken Social Scene crew on the Vogue’s historic stage Sunday, Nov. 4, it’ll be — to say the least — the start of a different kind of show for the band. Sure, onlookers will hear a few of the usual unthinkably thick and brainy BSS tunes, but that won’t be the focus of the night. That’s right, Canada’s best export since The New Pornographers has a brand new bag.
Known primarily for making “baroque pop” a household term amongst record store jockeys, music critics and audiophiles worldwide, the BSS collective burst onto the indie rock scene in 2003 with You Forgot It In People, a sophomore record drenched with themes original enough to put the band on the national music radar. Two years later came their eponymous third album, which earned them numerous awards and led to their touring off and on for the better part of the next year. Following the exhausting hype and worldwide hootenanny of their consecutive breakout indie-level albums, the members of BSS decided to go on hiatus, announcing a year later that they’d soon begin releasing solo albums from the band’s many members.
Enter Drew’s recently released debut solo album, Spirit If. Drew — who along with Brendan Canning is one of the band’s two founding members and leaders — has crafted an album many are hailing as one of 2007’s best and, as a result, his fellow BSS members (Canning included) have joined him for what is becoming one of the most surprising tours of the year. Again, the usual cerebral BSS compositions are popping up, but, for the most part, BSS are playing Drew’s new songs. That’s a good thing.
Full of nods to the ’90s indie rock scene, fuzzy chamber pop, acoustic balladry and imaginative pseudo-shoegazer rockers, Spirit If is not just an album that must be heard, but for those lucky enough to get their hands on a ticket, it’s a live homage to a great record that translates beautifully on stage.