Kevin Drew - Darlings | Album Review | By Volume

Gotta get out, before my heart explodes. Candy Says - Not Kings

Kevin Drew


Like a classic MTV Unplugged where six play music written for a Broken Social fifteen.

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Author: on March 25, 2014
City Slang

It’s good to be wrong sometimes. Had you asked me a few weeks ago, post-“Good Sex’s” release, how I felt about the prospect of Broken Social Scene founder Kevin Drew releasing another solo album in an effort to distance himself from the band he created, I’d probably have chortled. “Yeah, too bad that song sounds exactly like fucking Broken Social Scene”. Right, and so, now we’re here where I slap my hands to my face Macaulay Culkin style and mouth to everyone within eyesight a big old “OOPS”. Darlings sounds a lot like BSS, sure. One could even call it a BSS Record, if they were feeling so inclined. Best part about Drew’s other gig though? The sound he cultivated with Brendan Canning still sounds resplendently unique. All the while, many of Broken Social Scene’s other creative forces have found success with their main bands or with solo-careers, making a follow-up to Forgiveness Rock Record seem less and less likely (or one that sees the return of Leslie Feist, anyway). That album, too, is already pushing four years of existence and beginning to feel like a distant memory. Akin somewhat to the Broken Social Scene Presents… series, Darlings finds a creator of BSS’s experimental and elaborate bedroom rock purvey that sound, even if it’s a little less pronounced.

So, no, this isn’t a sequel to Spirit If…, and really, I’m almost hesitant at times to even lump it in the line with other BSS material. Thing is, though, Drew’s essence is so prominent within Broken Social Scene’s work that I feel his songwriting cannot escape it. This isn’t that band’s sound as much as it’s Drew’s and Darlings comes across as just that. If you were to take the playful, sprawling psychedelic pop and bedroom anthems of his earlier years and strip them down to their bare bones you’d have songs like “It’s Cool” and “Good Sex”. Darlings kind of plays like a classic episode of MTV Unplugged featuring six people on a stage performing music written for fifteen. Something about the album feels so grandiose, yet it’s so delightfully minimal – well, dialed back in relation to the rest of Drew’s music.

I heard you on the radio / with your bullshit ballad”, Drew half-joyously declares on the excellent “Bullshit Ballad”, possibly the album’s most raucous track. The song’s driving percussion and saw-blade guitars rip through the center of Darlings, nearly rendering it asunder. “My God” sneaks in quietly after to cushion the fall, mercilessly releasing its grip after lifting you so high. “I have a river full of darlings that connect to the words in my gut”, Drew confesses, as usual delivering this kind of intoxicated genius – that eloquence that can arise in intelligent people otherwise limited by social anxiety until you introduce a few drinks. This is a realm he’s a master of though; all of his music has this haze about it. Even here, at its most easily digestible, there’s a wonky dissonance to nearly every song. Darlings’ head is still firmly planted within the clouds even as its songwriting keeps its feet grounded.

While it is difficult to herald this album as a progressive forward motion for an artist already accredited with creating one of the most influential musical aesthetics of the past decade, Darlings is still a solid effort. Kevin Drew doesn’t distance himself from Broken Social Scene as much as he adds to the life of their sound. Yes, Broken Social Scene stretches beyond just Kevin Drew. But Darlings is a communal album that feels like more an effort of many, which is exactly what we should expect and demand from a catalyst as talented as Kevin Drew.

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