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Broken Social Scene | Let’s Try the After Vol. 2

The Toronto collective's latest EP is as strong as its predecessor — if not stronger.

Well, you can’t accuse them of not delivering the goods. In every sense of the term. It hasn’t even been two months since Broken Social Scene released Let’s Try the After Vol. 1, their first new songs in 18 months. But here they are with Vol. 2 — and to their credit, it’s every bit as strong as its predecessor. Maybe even stronger at points. After opening with a vaguely beachy and dreamy instrumental vignette, the five-track disc discloses one of the Toronto collective’s most memorable and magnificent songs in ages: Can’t Find My Heart. A surging indie-rocker topped by a soaring chorus — and decorated with everything from punchy horns to a searing guitar solo and a closing piano doodle that recalls Dire StraitsWalk of Life — it manages to be powerful and powerfully tender at the same time. It’s followed by Big Couches, which comes on all staccato points and gently clipped vocals, its double-time click-click eventually giving way to a grandly ringing wall of sound. Then comes the EP’s title cut, a piece of experimental soundscapery with dusky crooning set against the low end of a fuzzy, slightly distant electric piano and glowing tones around the edges. Finally, the show closes with Wrong Line, where tom-toms rumble while synths swarm and swirl and stab in polyrhythmic layers — until a twangy guitar and gated drums add a David Lynchian ’80s vibe to the proceedings. I’d have to spend some serious time comparing and contrasting the two — and deciphering the lyrics — to try to suss out the potential contrasts, complements and relationships between the two halves. But just on the surface, I’d say the first EP felt a little more hopeful and nostalgic while this one seems a little fatalistic and resigned. So maybe they’re meant to serve as something of a before-and-after scenario, which would actually make a certain amount of sense. Whatever the case, if you dug Vol. 1, you can feel pretty secure in shelling out for the back half. Fingers crossed we don’t have to wait too long to see what Broken Social Scene try after this.