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Broken Social Scene | Let’s Try the After Vol. 1

The Toronto collective returns after 18 months with a surprisingly solid EP.

Don’t get too excited, Broken Social Scene fans. Let’s Try the After Vol. 1 is not the Toronto collective’s followup album to 2017’s Hug of Thunder. It’s just a five-song EP. But given that it took the band seven years to get around to making Thunder, five new songs after just 18 months isn’t too bad. Especially when some of them are as good as After’s highlights. Of course, as is their way, BSS keep you waiting for the goodies. The EP opens with a pair of more-or-less instrumentals — the first a brief vignette, and the second a punchier number set to a driving motorik beat offset by a melancholy melody and a dash of wordless vocalizing from Ariel Engle. But the disc really gets going on Boyfriends, a low-key groover awash in ringing low-end keyboard tones and high-end squiggles, with Kevin Drew’s vocals coming through a mix as murky as the emotional landscape in the abusive relationships it decries. Engle returns for 1972, which gradually builds from a twinkly beginning to a thumpy, horn-spiked piece of pop-rock mood music that accessorizes her quavering vocals with smeary textures. The momentum continues to grow with exotic closer All I Want, kicking off spectral and buzzy before it evolves to a heavily pulsating groove fuelled by a wobbly bassline, a spiky melody and woozy vocals from Engle and infrequent vocalist Andrew Whiteman. Bottom line: It’s a solid 3.5 for 5. Maybe fans can get a little excited after all.

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