There’s a bigness to Broken Social Scene that often works against the band’s attempts at off-the-cuff indie-rock, even as it helps set it apart. The ad hoc Toronto group’s fourth album Forgiveness Rock Record features a smaller core of musicians than usual, and has producer John McEntire enforcing some discipline, but BSS still embraces sprawl and volume, because that’s who these guys are. If hooky songs like “Texico Bitches,” “Forced To Love,” and “Ungrateful Little Father” didn’t load up on casual vulgarity and excess instrumentation, they’d be indistinguishable from all the other catchy indie-rock on the market.
As usual, frontmen Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew take their spirit of inclusiveness too far at times, padding out the hour-long Forgiveness with demo-quality muddles like “Highway Slipper Jam” and silly songs about jerking off. But McEntire’s presence seems to have encouraged Broken Social Scene to restore a lot of the focused rhythmic punch of You Forgot It In People, and songs like the techno-dystopian “Chase Scene” and the rousing sing-along “Water In Hell” benefit greatly from the renewed energy. The album takes its cues from its stellar opener, “World Sick,” which swells and booms and tries to embrace the global and the personal all at once, while never forgetting to swing.