You Forgot It In People makes me proud to be Canadian, and that’s saying a lot since I’ve been more and more disillusioned with my country. I mean, we pride ourselves on our supposed “niceness,” but “sorry”’s a cheap word and just saying it doesn’t mean you mean it. Anyway, I remember watching the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Closing Ceremony, where our most well-known artists performed -Nickelback, Simple Plan and Avril Lavigne – and that was frankly enough to make any Canadian ashamed of their country. To give you a sense of how disappointed in people I was, I was ready to stop going to Tim Horton’s (we call it Timmy Ho’s up north, and I’m shocked that no one’s made a strip joint called Timmy’s Hoes), and kick any beaver, bear, moose or Canadian goose in the face. Just pack it up and head to America, right? I’ll even stop using “eh” at the end of all my sentences and I promise I won’t ever say “Out and about” (We pronounce this “Uut and abuut”). Watching the young ladies swoon after Justin Bieber is another matter entirely. Yet we have Broken Social Scene, responsible for You Forgot It In People, an indie pariah of the 00’s.
Why? Firstly, there’s the amount of detail within each track. It’s easy to remember the obvious things: the crescendo of “Almost Crimes” (love the way both vocalists sound like they’re slowly losing their minds as the track progresses); the mantras of “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl”; the hook in “Cause = Time” that suggests maybe this world ain’t perfect and the guitar (2:25 mark) and the new melody (2:38 mark) that suggests that maybe we can do something about it; the alternating guitar line throughout “Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries”; the oft-talked about line “I swore I’d drink your piss that night to see if I could live” from “I’m Still Your Fag”; etc. But listening to any of these tracks, I’m sure you’ll find something that you haven’t heard before – hell, I think I’ve spun “I’m Still Your Fag” dozens of times but somehow, when I heard it walking to a house party earlier this week, I stopped dead in my tracks because I never noticed the atmospheric buzz throughout it and I assumed it was coming from cicadas around me (despite y’know, it being the dead of winter). Did “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart” need the drums? No. Am I happy they were included? Yes. Meanwhile, according to songmeanings.com, “Almost Crimes” (I can’t hear them at all) and “Shampoo Suicide” (I can hear them, they’re just not articulate) are laced with dirty lines like “Children sleep with dicks” and “Who’s there you’re talking to? / Like you’re sucking on his dick,” respectively. And did you know that “Anthem for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” takes three guitars (banjo included) to play (without even mentioning the drums or the strings)? I certainly did not.
Secondly, there’s the sheer scope of the record that makes sense when you remember by this time Broken Social Scene had evolved from a humble post-rock outing of two members into a full-blown collective. If you don’t believe me, play any of these two songs right now and just be amazed by how different they are (the only real exception is “Late Night Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries” bleeding into “Shampoo Suicide”). What follows the aforementioned crescendo of “Almost Crimes?” The washed out “Looks Just Like the Sun,” the soundtrack to sitting on a bench with a coffee and cigarette and only pieces of what happened last night in your memory. What follows “Pacific Theme” that shifts from a lighthearted theme song that the title suggests into a full-blown house party? A song that somehow manages to expertly convey every heartbreak I’ve ever experienced through some of the simplest phrases (and seemingly nonsensical if you’re reading along and not listening through Emily Haines’ treated voice). Love to the way she extends “Me” with an extra syllable (“Me-ee”) so it lingers, and love the way she suddenly cuts at the last repetition of “Drop that phone,” even though you were probably still ready to sing “Sleep on the floor, dream about me.” Watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World months after I stopped listening to You Forgot It In People, I almost fell off my chair when “Anthem for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” began playing at the perfect time. On these two points – detail and scope – frankly, very few other bands came close to whatYou Forgot It in People achieved or even tried to (off the top of my head, Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot did it, and on that note, 2002 was a great year for indie music, seriously).
I will admit that it’s not perfect. “Capture the Flag” feels like the obligatory intro track (though it’s still good); “KC Accidental” blisters towards crescendos over and over which means the crescendos signify less than they do on the following tracks (though it’s still good); “Lover’s Spit” has no real reason to be over 6 minutes in length (though it’s still good) (and though Feist is a prettier singer, her version found on Bee Hives is 3 minutes longer and thus 3 minutes shittier); string-laden “Pitter Patter Goes My Heart” feels like the obligatory closer (though it’s still good) – and in case you haven’t gotten the point through repetition, I’ll reiterate: none of these tracks are bad. But still, I connect more deeply with this album than I do others that might be better. I’ve already covered how I feel about “Anthems,” so I’ll just point out that “Lover’s Spit” reminds me that scene in The Catcher in the Rye – great book – where Holden Caulfield spies on a couple literally trading spit (and though most people would rightly claim it’s disgusting to see that, it’s also kind of lonely if you’re alone at the time) while there’s a wonderful sentiment in the words “I’m still your fag” even if you’re not gay. And I won’t forget that my ex-girlfriend introduced me to the band (with one of the instrumental tracks at a time where all I cared about were vocals by some ill-conceived notion that I might be one someday). My ex-Canadian-girlfriend, and Goddamn, I am proud to be Canadian. Where is my hockey stick? Uut and abuut? Damn, straight.