If 2017 is a kind of class reunion for 2000s indie rock—with new albums from Arcade Fireplace, LCD Soundsystem, Spoon, Phoenix, Fleet Foxes, The Nationwide, Grizzly Bear, and Soiled Projectors all showing in the identical calendar yr—then the members of Damaged Social Scene are the clique that breaks off from the primary festivities. “I don’t wish to sound too Norman Rockwell about it, however reuniting with these guys is valuable to me,” Leslie Feist just lately advised Stereogum, forward of her personal long-awaited Pleasure. “The truth that we now have that place to come back collectively and have a parallel focus? All of us have one thing to contribute to collectively? It’s nice.” That mutual love—the sound of this roving gaggle of Canadian musicians discovering their means again to one another, and simply getting excessive off being in one another’s presence once more—colours Hug Of Thunder, Damaged Social Scene’s first album in seven years. It makes you grateful they have been invited to the celebration.
At its peak, Damaged Social Scene was each one of many largest issues in indie rock and a gaggle containing what have been quickly to be a few of the style’s largest names. Hug Of Thunder most recaptures the communal triumph of 2002 breakthrough You Forgot It In Individuals, which synthesized these many proficient voices right into a joyful, eclectic entire, earlier than they started stealing bits of the highlight for themselves. The collective enthusiasm throbs from inside “Midway Residence,” which opens Hug Of Thunder’s 12 tracks with a string-scraping, drum-rolling fanfare and proves a current Father John Misty pronouncement—“a number of indie rock skews intently to worship music”—in the easiest way potential. It’s a reward refrain, recapturing the potent mixture of ecstasy and anxiousness that’s lengthy been Damaged Social Scene’s inventory in commerce. “’Trigger in case you by no means run, by no means run / How they gonna catch you alive,” ringleader Kevin Drew murmurs between acoustic choosing and morse-code snares.
Hug can be a welcome retreat to these earlier information when it comes to manufacturing, forsaking the leaner sound of 2010’s Forgiveness Rock File for the shaggy excesses of each You Forgot It and Damaged Social Scene. The dreamier texture of these early information is restored on tracks like “Please Take Me With You” and “Skyline,” the latter of which performs like a shoegaze reimagining of Feist strummer “Really feel It All.” It’s telling how simply “Midway Residence” and “Protest Tune” slot into the band’s present dwell units, whether or not performed back-to-back (as they’re on report) or positioned subsequent to equally propulsive favorites like “7/four (Shoreline)” and “Ibi Goals Of Pavement (A Higher Day).” If there are surprises to be discovered, it’s within the occasional ’80s pop influences—the spiky Howard Jones horns on “Self-importance Pail Children,” or the gated drums on “Hug Of Thunder” that beg to be slotted on a “Summer season 2017” playlist subsequent to Haim’s “Need You Again.”
Granted, at this level, some particular person members of Damaged Social Scene have grow to be unmistakably distinctive voices inside that refrain, and turns on the mic right here from each Feist and Metric’s Emily Haines might have simply been launched below their very own banners. However the spirited backing marks them as uniquely Damaged Social Scene works: the chittering guitar on the alternately rousing and heart-rending Haines-led “Protest Tune”; the “Pacific Theme” chill-out of the Feist-led title observe. In the meantime, new recruit Ariel Engle makes an auspicious debut on a pair of tracks that punch holes by the gathering clouds of a tumultuous yr, optimistically declaring “Keep Comfortable” and that it’s “Gonna Get Higher.”
The timing of its launch offers Hug Of Thunder an added enhance of urgency: The band that scrawled “We hate your hate” on the again of an album in 2005 is reemerging in a shifting geopolitical local weather the place the hate simply retains piling up—and even “Gonna Get Higher” begins by emphasizing “issues will get higher,” however fairly quickly it’s the “can’t worsen” half that’s the stickier chorus. Within the album’s repeated references to numbness, the ambient sigh of “Please Take Me With You,” and the pictures of retreat amid the pummeling “Mouth Guards Of The Apocalypse,” the album flirts repeatedly with a kind of resigned give up. Even in “Protest Tune,” Haines follows years of Metric tunes poking enjoyable at empty politicizing with the refrain, “We’re simply the newest within the longest rank-and-file checklist / Ever to exist within the historical past of the protest tune.”
However Hug Of Thunder finally finds the rationale to hold on in one another. “Wanting on the basic state of the world proper now, we knew that placing our unified friendship on the market was an amazing protest that we might do,” Drew just lately advised Pitchfork. A single tune isn’t going to vary the world, however 18 musicians discovering their power in numbers once more may also help make the morass just a little extra tolerable.