Broken Social Scene, the Toronto-based rock band, has been powering through 2019. First the single “All I Want” in January, then the EP Let’s Try The After (Vol. 1) in February, the single “Can’t Find My Heart” in March and now Let’s Try The After (Vol. 2) in April. Broken Social Scene fans have been knee-deep in a steady stream of new music.
Vol. 2 continues the oceanic theme of Vol. 1, with seagulls crying to mark the beginning of the EP. Then the opening track on Vol. 2, “Memory Lover,” sets itself apart with a lush harmony of reverbing ambient vocals, guitar strums and synth keys that rival the atmosphere of a Tycho song. This sets the tone for the album and positions it relative to its predecessor released just two months earlier. If the opening of Vol. 1 put the listener in a baby stroller for a walk along the shoreline, Vol. 2 opens with a beach-side cruise in a convertible.
Vocals are a high point on the title track, “Let’s Try The After.” An eerie high-pitched echo backs the main vocals. Alongside faint background hums and indiscernible whispers, the song oscillates between ominous and relaxing. The band also makes great use of supporting vocals weaving through the instrumentation on the closing track, “Wrong Line.” But the highlight is the drums — in addition to a unique and flavorful background pattern of kicks and hats, spurs of nontraditional street-style percussion are peppered throughout the song.
The most questionable choice on the EP is the use of heavily autotuned, Daft Punk-esque singing on “Big Couches.” Broken Social Scene is unique in their ability to make non-traditional musical pairings sound natural and cohesive, but the choice to use autotune in an otherwise airy song is a rare swing-and-miss. The song’s weak progression doesn’t help: It meanders along gradually, so by the time the horns come in, by the time the song really finds its groove, there are only thirty seconds left.
What Vol. 2 is missing is a powerful anthem to round it out. “Can’t Find My Heart,” released three weeks earlier as a single, tries to fill that space. It’s everything the indie-rock head could ask for. It’s anthemic, it has drama and it has energy, but on any other record, it would be filler. The eclectic style of “Let’s Try The After” and “Wrong Line” are far more interesting, and after the beautiful buildup of “Memory Lover,” it seems like “Can’t Find My Heart” was dropped into the EP from some different, less creative band.
For such a short project — 17 minutes in total — there are high highs and low lows on Vol. 2. It starts off with so many hails to summer, conjuring an image of a warm beach, but the rest of the project feels oddly cold and landlocked. That contrast has left listeners feeling lukewarm about Vol. 2. With such a mix of styles in just five songs, it’s hard to say what sonic direction the band will chase next. It might not be a long wait to find out. Based on the last few months, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to guess that more music is on the way from Broken Social Scene this year.