2005: The bottom of the heap

By Garth Paulson

Broken Social Scene–Broken Social Scene

Everyone knows when a band releases an album as critically praised as Broken Social Scene’s 2003 masterpiece, You Forgot it in People, the expectations for the follow up are going to be massive and there will be a backlash. Both of these happened to the Toronto collective when they rose to indie stardom after YFIIP was universally slobbered over. It isn’t fair to criticize a band for failing to live up to someone else’s expectations but hype and the past aside, Broken Social Scene’s eponymous just isn’t very good.

Composed of 14 songs, Broken Social Scene is a muddled, confusing affair unable to find its legs. The album begins with “Our Faces Split the Coast in Half,” three and half minutes of aural masturbation going nowhere. Next up is “Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)” which has a good song buried somewhere below the mess of musicians but they are all intent on making sure it never sees the light of day. A few songs later is “Windsurfing Nation” featuring K-Os. Mixing Canada’s best indie-rock band with one of its shining emcees should have lead to a huge crossover hit but instead Broken Social Scene opt to cram several songs–none of them good– into one.

The album isn’t all bad. In fact, “7/4 (Shoreline),” “Major Label Debut,” “Swimmers” and “Hotel” all recall the agonizing attention to detail characteristic of YFIIP. Sadly, the band surrounds these songs with poor ideas and needless tangents.

The album is disappointing because of these strong moments. They prove BSS still has good ideas; the problem is the band is overly democratic. If someone in Broken Social Scene could have played the jerk editor Broken Social Scene could have been another album as important as its predecessor. Instead, it’s coy. It lets you know how wonderful it can be then treats you to song after song of pompous nothingness.


It’s hard to be disappointed when a promising movie turns out bad. Hollywood has spoiled more than its fair share of solid premises, so the experienced moviegoer knows to approach the screen with a healthy dose of skepticism. When a movie promises to be spectacularly awful–when, say, a professional wrestler is cast in the lead of a movie based on a decade-old video game–it’s hard not to walk away brokenhearted when the movie turns out okay.

This isn’t to say that Doom was a good movie. Far from it. But it wasn’t Battlefield Earth, either. It wasn’t even Stealth. It was just mediocre. Where there could have been an epic space opera, an orgy of violence and satanic imagery or even just a ham-fisted action fluff piece, Doom provided only extended scenes of people walking with guns and looking nervous, and occasional bursts of badly lit gunfire.

Bad movie enthusiasts walked into Doom expecting something to rival 2003’s House of the Dead, a film splicing clips from the pixilated zombie video game into real-life action scenes. One 10-minute section of Doom that lives up to the expectations; a glorious first-person sequence featuring zombies shouting “boo” and cackling with malevolent glee fully embraces the b-movie aesthetic otherwise kept just below the surface. There wasn’t a moment in film this year more disappointing than how bad the rest of Doom wasn’t.

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