The newest solo offering from Broken Social Scene’s de facto ringleader does nothing to dispel the notion that he’s still indie-rock’s biggest heart-on-your-sleeve (and, self-admittedly, failed) romantic. From the first lines on the album’s excellent quick-draw opener, Drew makes it apparent that some things just don’t change: “get the body butter, baby let’s go party all alone/you can feel the lights, they’re comin’ on and off and on.” He’s still singing about “bad business transactions, bodily fluids, and courage,” but it’s tighter, more streamlined, and somehow, even more intimate than it’s been in the past.
Darlings is full of the bedroom rock made Drew’s other projects, K.C. Accidental and BSS, famous, but with less sonic stitching than the former, and less bombast than the latter. It has a special kind of force and intimacy, one less suited to mass musical love-ins than sitting across from someone in the dark with your clothes off, fumbling through a moment. First single, “Good Sex,” with it’s heavy background synth, pounding drums, and simple piano keeps things literal: “good sex, it never makes you feel hollow/good sex, it never makes you feel clean,” juxtaposed against the sweet but heavy coda, “I’m still breathin’ with you, baby.” “Bullshit Ballad” is maybe the closest it gets to a BSS song on the record, a layer-the-guitars and keep-the-drums-simple head-nodder. “You In Your Were” might be the best track on the record: a big, hazy-but-straight tune, with call-to-arms kick and toms holding together a slurry synth lick, building and building until it explodes, with background vocals courtesy of the inimitable Leslie Feist.
While Darlings doesn’t break any new ground, it’s an excellent example of why breaking new ground isn’t always good or necessary. Remember, you have to feel it in your stomach first, and amidst a sea of sometimes soulless wankery and posed intimacy, Darlings shines as something that will punch you right in it. (Arts & Crafts, arts-crafts.ca) Matt Williams