"Absolutely, utterly essential" - BBC
"Endlessly replayable, perfect pop" - Pitchfork (Best New Music)
Once a two-person basement recording project, Broken Social Scene came to life onstage as a shadowy improvisational entity with a revolving-door roster, each concert a wholly unique experience dependent on the room, the weather, what they ate for dinner that night, and who was dropping in to play. Where the band’s 2001 debut album, Feel Good Lost, presented BSS as an anonymous ambient project that reflected its humble, homespun origins, their electrifying live performances from that era rallied an extended family of performers with roots in post-rock (Justin Peroff, Do Make Say Think’s Charles Spearin), Latin jazz (Andrew Whiteman), art-folk (Feist), synth-pop (Amy Millan and Evan Cranley, also of Stars), dance-punk (Metric’s Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw), and country rock (Jason Collett).
But by pursuing improvisational freedom over commercial considerations, Broken Social Scene set a new gold standard for indie rock in the 21st century with 2002’s You Forgot It In People, an album that pushed the genre far beyond its noisy ’90s slacker roots toward a more sonically expansive, emotionally expressive vision.
Throughout their two-decade run, Broken Social Scene have achieved all the markers of modern indie success—rave reviews from Pitchfork, invites to play Coachella and Lollapalooza, multiple Juno Awards and Letterman appearances, and name-drops in Lorde songs. And their victories have ultimately been Toronto’s, through the establishment of a record label (Arts & Crafts) and music festival (Field Trip) that became rallying points for the local scene and nurtured the next generation of indie upstarts. But arguably Broken Social Scene’s greatest accomplishment is their mere existence, as a conglomerate that continues to defy all logistical convention and musical expectations. They’re living proof that underdogs are most effective when travelling in a pack, that mass audiences can be led into uncharted waters through collective enthusiasm, and that the better world we all dream of begins with community.