Along with myself and ketchup chips (yes), Broken Social Scene’s 2002 release You Forgot It in People is high in the running for the best thing to ever come out of Canada. The big band Arts & Crafts collective’s sophomore release unveiled their notoriously huge roster long before Arcade Fire or even The Polyphonic Spree got around to it, boasting talents like Leslie Feist and Emily Haines along with frontrunners Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning.
It’s a hard album to describe considering the sonic and tonal shifts the album manages to maneuver through. At once it recalls Yo La Tengo, Nick Drake, and a bit of Interpol but the diversity of these comparisons paint an incomplete picture of the album, and serve only to show the variety on offer. Make no mistake, the songs should be consumed together to be fully appreciated, lest the marked shift in styles and tone lose their weight.
A major inflection point occurs towards the end of the album’s first single “Cause=Time,” as the horn section’s languid outro veers the record from catchy rock into more solemn territory. The dour last half of this record, in stark contrast to its opening, presents what are arguably its strongest tracks – chief among them being the diptych of “Late Night Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries and Shampoo Suicide.”
Whereas the first half of the album sports spritely vocals and plucky bass lines, by the time BSS have made it through the eighth track they seem to be grappling with a weightier sense of both mood and rhythm. Between the plaintive vocals lacing “Shampoo Suicide,” the funereal pianos treading through “Lover’s Spit,” and the dirge-like melodies of “I’m Still Your Fag,” the record seems to somberly redden and drop away like the last weeks of summer.
This album came out when I was too young to understand it but I listened to it anyways. Eventually, I grew into and experienced what these songs were trying to express and found myself returning to it time and again. You Forgot It in People endures because in its honesty and richness, it has the unique ability to remain consistently evocative without subsisting on mere nostalgia.
Stream the album in its entirety on Spotify.