What do Manitoba, Grandaddy, Stephen Malkmus, The White Stripes, Prefuse 73, Ted Leo and the New Pornographers have in common? They’ve all released albums in 2003 that represent an outstanding ability to write, perform, and record music. What else do they have in common?
None of their great ’03 releases even come close to You Forgot It In People.
Broken Social Scene, a blender full of Canada’s finest bands (Do Make Say Think, Treble Charger, etc.), have arrived—very quietly at first—with the album of the year. This beautiful mess of genres that all come together for thirteen tracks of jaw-dropping wonder was released in obscurity and now finds itself immersed in hype. There is a good reason why, too. If you look through some of the criteria that make a good album a great album, you’ll find You Forgot It In People does pretty well for itself:
• Transcending genres. Broken Social Scene pay homage to a wide array of admirable artists: Jeff Buckley (“Lover’s Spit”), Death Cab for Cutie (“Almost Crimes”), Spoon (“Stars and Sons”), Donovan (“I’m Still Your Fag”), and The Ladybug Transistor (“Pacific Theme”).
• Production. David Newfeld manages to rope in the ten different members of Broken Social Scene (and their guests) and keep everything from becoming a mess. There are sounds everywhere, but the production is so big and colorful that you hardly notice how many people play on one song.
• Repeatability. You Forgot it in People is enjoyable at first listen, impresses at the second, and starts to stagger you at the third. After listening to this album for a while (days on end, occasionally), it never tires. And with all of the aforementioned music being played at once, there is something revealed with each listen.
Each piece of each song, each performance, is tiny. But it’s the sum of all the parts, all of the guitars being layered and vocal tracks and other sounds that add up to the big finish.
I’ve been trying to think of a way to describe this album. You Forgot It In People is the sound the sun would make in a room of mirrors while its rays perpetually bounce back and forth. But the best description of this album is the first thing that runs through my mind when I think about it:
“My God, what a fuckin’ album.”