Hug Of Thunder by Broken Social SceneRelease date: July 7, 2017
Label: Arts & Crafts
It’s a pretty big deal when a band that is as well regarded as Broken Social Scene is, announces an album release. Especially when their last release was seven years ago. It was definitely well worth the wait. The album is called Hug of Thunder and it releases July 7, 2017.
Leading up to the release, the band have already given fans a taste of the album by premiering three of the twelve tracks off the album, and what an album it is. The album is rich and full of ambient textures, orchestral arrangements and great walls of sound. Songs sung in unison forming a unified front that pushes the ugliness of the world out and blasts the hope back in. Not a surprise as the album includes contributions from all fifteen original members plus new guest vocalist Ariel Engle (AroarA). A celebration of many musical genres, Hug of Thunder will leave you hopeful and full of inspiration.
The album starts out with an ambient, instrumental track entitled, ‘Sol Luna’. It’s a quiet before the storm since the track that follows, ‘Halfway Home’, blasts it way through the sonic highway. It’s a hard-hitting track, with beautiful arrangements and vocal harmonies. The horns that come in near the end of this track are incredible.
‘Protest Song’ follows with Emily Haines on lead vocals. It’s a driving track with superb drumming and guitar/bass work. The bridge in this track is dramatic and pretty great.
The track, ‘Skyline’ is one of my favorites on this album. It’s a lush track, complete with acoustic strumming of guitars with a great shimmery ambient layer floating in behind. The instrumentation and vocals in the track are so beautiful and wonderfully distracting, that it took me several listens to realize that there are only 4 lyrics in this track.
‘Stay Happy’ starts as a throwback to the early 60s with a “da ran da, daran da da, de ah de ah” medley (think Breakfast at Tiffany’s). It’s quirky and unexpected. The horns in this track (and all tracks) are pretty incredible as well.
‘Vanity Pail Kids’ comes back to a rockin groove with orchestral inclinations. It made me think of Arcade Fire, The Peptides and Jack White all at the same time. The vocal changes, the heavy drumming and cool guitar and bass riffs made the track explosive. Again, the horns in this track were amazing.
The title track and another favorite of mine, ‘Hug Of Thunder’, features Feist on lead vocals. The band delivers a reflective experience through lyrics and instrumentation and brought me back to their album, You Forgot It in People and the track, ‘Looks Just Like the Sun’. Story tellers through music, I found these lyrics especially great,
“And time’s gonna take it
Time that Kenny said I broke in over the summer
It was the evening when he climbed that tree
I was afraid what he was doing inside so I
Followed him to stop a robbery
All along we’re gonna feel some numbness
Oxymoron of our lives
Getting fed up by the hunger
Supersize we found inside
He will know what’s real or numbness
Catching up and climbing life
Speaking like a hug of thunder
Lit up by the lights of dusk outside”
Each track on this album showcases a different style of music and the track, ‘Towers and Masons’, is no different. It brings yet another change in sound with its math rock inspired guitar work and changes. While the track, ‘Victim Lover’, brings the listener a more funk inspired vibe. In this track, the bass line and horns shine along with the added synth and keys.
Justin Peroff’s drumming is exceptional throughout the album but especially shines in ‘Please take me with you’. It reminded me so very much of the drumming used in Radiohead’s ‘Weird Fishes/Arpeggi’. It’s amazing. The guitar work reminded me of the Cure. The synth work in this track along with Kevin Drew’s vocals are also pretty sweet.
‘Gonna Get Better’ features the newest member to the band, Ariel Engle on lead vocals. Engle’s vocals float over top the shimmering instrumentation. With ebbs and flows and walls of sound created by wonderful layers of sound.
The album ends with the track, ‘Mouth Guards of The Apocalypse’. The bass line in this track is phenomenal. It has a great instrumental start and at around the 2:30 mark an explosion of drums and vocals come smashing through. The brass section helps to bring the track to its epic finale. It’s a great ending to an awesome album.
Broken Social Scene have not disappointed with this new release. It really is a testament to their friendships and a celebration of these friendships forged in incredible music.