Brendan Canning - Something For All Of Us
Mike Mantin 03/08/2008
'Something For All Of Us' is the second offering from the 'Broken Social Scene presents' series, in which members of the Toronto collective deliver semi-solo albums, with extensive help from bandmates. This was worrying at first: part of the group's charm has always been its community spirit, so it's good to see guitarist/bassist Brendan Canning keeping it alive with the title and sleeve art. As such, the album features plenty of cameos from, as he puts it, "good friends who pass through and lend a hand".
Canning has always been the quiet genius lurking in the shadows, so don't expect much showmanship or deep soulsearching - that's always been the job of frontman and general mastermind Kevin Drew, who continued his role with last year's disc, and this album's impressive predecessor, 'Spirit If...' Fittingly, 'Something For All Of Us' is an understated record, an archetypal 'grower' that doesn't really get going until the third track 'Hit The Wall', which is reminiscent of Broken Social Scene's powerpop classics like '7/4 (Shoreline)' and 'Fire Eye'd Boy'. This is the only track that truly knocks you out on first listen, the rest of the album takes its time to unfurl.
Some of the best tracks here are the ones that glide along serenely, relaxing but also fascinatingly enigmatic. 'Snowballs And Icicles' is a stripped-back, fingerpicked track perfectly suited to Canning's soft, shy voice. 'Antique Bull' is jazzy and relaxing, with Lisa Lobsinger's vocals providing the same lazy charm that characterised her on/off band Reverie Sound Revue. Perhaps best is the 'All The Best Wooden Toys Come From Germany': once you get past the disappointment that the instrumental track offers no explanation to why those toys are so great, it's a beautiful electronic piece with flourishes of strings and horns that harks back to Broken Social Scene's ambient first album, 'Feel Good Lost'. It ends far too quickly and you're left wanting more. Perhaps another track like it would have gone down better than the slightly misguided funk number 'Love Is New'. But then again, maybe that would stop it offering something for all of us.
Canning's ablum plays to his image as Drew's hugely talented sidekick - it lacks the punch of a regular Broken Social Scene record but more than makes up for it in subtlty and atmosphere - the production is superb, with just the right amount of fuzz. Clearly Canning plays a big role in achieving BSS' trademark shoegazy, wall-of-noise sound. As such, this is the antithesis of a self-indulgent solo album, it's more akin to peering into Canning's studio and seeing what makes him tick when Kevin isn't calling the shots. Bring on the next chance to see the Scene unfold.