There's been pretty steady buzz since at least the start of the year about influential indie-rock band Broken Social Scene's new album "Forgiveness Rock Record," out this week on the label Arts & Crafts. First, there was the issue of pent-up demand: BSS hadn't put out a proper album since 2005. Second, in February, the band released a free MP3 of a single from "Forgiveness Rock Record" -- a gorgeous epic titled "World Sick" -- and the music blogosphere was instantly enraptured. (You can still download it free on the album's Amazon page here.)
Now that "Forgiveness" is finally out (I'm giving away two copies in a random drawing; see below), well, so far surprisingly there's scant backlash to the hype. The album's earned a score of 82 (which equates to "universal acclaim") on Metracritic, the invaluable aggregator of leading critical opinion. I particularly like L.A. Times writer Margaret Wappler's take on the band's "tender maelstrom of fey orchestration" and the way that "many of the songs bloom from chorus-driven pop into soundscaped reveries."
BSS, for the uninitiated, is a Toronto-based "collective," with various members coming and going over time as they please. (Feist -- a.k.a. Leslie Feist, whom everybody fell in love with when her song "1 2 3 4" was featured in an iPod commercial -- is probably the best known.) When I saw them at a packed show in Manhattan in 2005, at one point more than a dozen musicians crowded the stage. They produce a version of what you might call the new indie wall of sound -- a sort of ecstatic sadness that's both comforting and discomfiting.
You want to feel bad for the band ("World Sick" opens with the lyric "We got a minefield of crippled affection"), except, man, each member is also clearly having an awesome time jamming with fellow brilliant damaged types. And I do mean jamming (e.g., "World Sick" clocks in at nearly seven minutes, setting the tone for this sprawling 14-song album). Because as state-of-the-art indie as "Forgiveness Rock Record" sounds, it's also deeply nostalgic in an almost noodle-y, jam-band-esque Grateful Dead-ish way, especially given the subtext of quasi-hippie Utopianism inherent in the very idea of a creative collective.
In fact, I won't be happy until Broken Social Scene -- hell, maybe even just the band's new record -- gets its own Cherry Garcia-style Ben & Jerry 's flavor. Forgiveness Rocky Road, anyone?
THE FINE PRINT: To enter my random drawing in this informal Media Guy's Pop Pick giveaway, send me an e-mail with "Forgiveness Rock Record" in the subject line on or before May 15 (the cut-off is 12 midnight EST). You must have a valid U.S. mailing address and be 18 or older.
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Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco