Broken Social Scene
You Forgot It In People
Arts & Crafts/Paper Bag
o...10 members of the Toronto music scene assemble to create pop music. They’ve been off noodling in bands like Do Make Say Think, A Silver Mt. Zion, Stars, and they decide that they want to make four-minute songs instead of endless opuses. As if it’s nothing at all.
The casualness with which You Forgot It In People blends its creators’ post-rock backgrounds with indie pop music is nothing short of astonishing. An amalgam of such dissimilar genres is always expected to sound forced, contrived, unnatural, but no, it’s completely unaffected and absolutely natural. And it’s pretty exceptional, too.
Perhaps more surprising, this is all done without sacrificing the remarkable originality of bands like Do Make Say Think. In fact, elements from these bands are improved upon, and applied in these songs as if a pop format were the logical progression from post-rock’s meandering. Take the beautiful atmosphere of & Yet & Yet, for example, and work on it for a while, then instead of using the new sound for the next Constellation release, ponder what it would sound like on Matador. The result is just as shimmering, and far more rewarding because of the more focused melodies to which it is applied.
Songs like “Stars and Sons” provide the proof that such a thing can be done, however much you may doubt it. The grooviest, catchiest melody you can imagine is repeated for five minutes over blissful layers of air, and while at first you can’t picture either element working too well with each other, you soon realize that you can’t see it happening any other way. It’s absolutely transcendental. “Looks Just Like the Sun” similarly juxtaposes a simple guitar melody with distant, atmospheric noises to create a textural pop song that is both approachable and emotionally powerful.
In addition to lifting the atmosphere of the band members’ earlier efforts, You Forgot It In People often features the jazzy inclinations toward which these previous releases often hinted. “Pacific Theme” recalls the laid-back groove of Do Make Say Think’s “End of Music”, but differs in its more focused hooks, and furthers the jazzy feel with horns. “Shampoo Suicide” has the same relaxed keyboards and loose drumming, but adds much more volume and texture, making for the song closest in style to the old post-rock approach and furthest from the new pop approach.
Then there are some songs that don’t suggest any of the group’s past work, songs that are simply some of the best moments in indie rock. “Almost Crimes” is pure punk, putting distorted, manipulated noises to brilliant use, and topping them off with painfully raw vocals. “KC Accidental” has a thoroughly gorgeous melody, made positively inspirational as it drives the song toward the most epic sound possible in a track under the four-minute mark.
Among these songs that don’t point toward any of the band’s earlier material are a few that seem almost out of place because they don’t indicate the band’s current sound either. “Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries” crescendos by using high guitar notes over a simple electronic beat, and more and more feedback as the end approaches -- it all just barely fits together, but in the end, it works. Opener “Capture the Flag” sounds like it could be a vignette off of Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock. Closer “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart” is a short, emotive string piece that sounds annexed to the already complete album, a closer even though one was already there (the unfortunately titled, but very good “I’m Still Your Fag”). None of these songs are essential to the album, but they don’t really detract from it either; their relatively strong melodies are enough to make the very strange styles upon which they touch not only interesting, but a worthwhile listen as well.
You Forgot It In People is a tremendously accomplished album, magnificently achieving its goal of creating bonafide pop music and doing so with admirable style. Looking back, it seems strange that I doubted the album would succeed in the first place, but only now can I recognize what an achievement the record truly is. You'd almost have to hear it to believe it.
Reviewed by: Kareem Estefan
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01