Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Album Review: Kevin Drew - Spirit If...

Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew - Spirit If...
(Arts & Crafts, 2007)

"F--ked Up Kid" (mp3)

It was only a matter of time before Kevin Drew released a solo album. If the majority of Broken Social Scene's contributors have their own projects, why not Kevin? But Spirit If... is not exactly a Kevin Drew solo album. Or maybe it is, I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as "solo" anymore (I'm looking at you too, Thurston). The album is definitely a showcase of Kevin Drew penned material, but like the two proper Broken Social Scene albums that precede it, Spirit If... also features a cavalcade of guest stars, both familiar with the BSS camp (
Justin Peroff, Feist, Brendan Canning, Amy Millan, Jason Tait, Julie Penner, Emily Haines, you get the idea...) and new to the scene (J Mascis, Scott Kannberg, and more). As a result, the first album in what is supposed to be a series of "Broken Social Scene Prestens" releases sticks to some very familiar territory, sounding very much like a Broken Social Scene album, albeit one that is a tad subdued.

Of the album's 14 tracks, the majority sound like top notch demos for Broken Social Scene's 2005 self titled release. In fact, this album makes for a fine companion piece to said album, but as a stand alone release it never quite blossoms as full as the others. That is not for any lack of effort though, as there are several highlights on Spirit If... "F--ked Up Kid" may sound the most like a Broken Social Scene track, but certainly does not suffer as a result. The guitars are not as loud, but they're still every bit as multi-layered as we have come to expect, while the drums are metronome precise with bursts of high-hat that accentuate the end of each measure, much like the excellent "7/4 Shoreline". The next track, "Safety Bricks", is very similar to "F--ked Up Kid" in its approach, but without as many bells and whistles. The song sounds clear as day, yet decidedly demolike with its erred guitar strums, though Drew's soothing falsetto and swooning strings do their part to authenticate this song as album ready, and studio quality; a true late double-auchts song for the fucked up indie kids.

If the album fails in any area, it has to be in the few real rock songs that Spirit If... has to offer, which is shocking considering Broken Social Scene's apparent knack for churning out bombastic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, this-one-goes-to-eleven, inundated-by-guitars, rock 'n roll extravaganzas. On Spirit If..., we're subjected to the boring, formulaic "Farewell to the Pressure Kids", and the messy "Back Out on the..." (dude, what the fuck is up with the ellipses?!), which sounds like a bad attempt at genetically splicing the DNA of a Dinosaur Jr song with some terrible billiards bar, mullet rock shit like Bob Seager. Drew at least atones for "Pressure Kids" with a gorgeous reprise, titled "Bodhi Sappy Weekend", that helps solidify the back end of the album.

Spirit If... may not stand as tall as any of the proper Broken Social Scene releases, but it does at least stand. One thing is for sure, this album is a grower. It took several listens for me to come around and finally enjoy it, and perhaps that was mostly due to my hope that this album would provide something completely different and unexpected. In the end there was no denying that, save for a couple of songs, this album is pretty good. Spirit If... never bowled me over, but it continues to get better, and that is never a bad thing.

1 comment:

Girlfriend said...
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