Broken Social Scene, "Forgiveness Rock Record"

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Toronto collective Broken Social Scene's fourth album, "Forgiveness Rock Record," finds the group doing the unthinkable: whittling its lineup of up to 19 members down to six and writing songs with choruses. On the new set, Broken Social Scene embraces its pop sensibilities like never before. The track "Water in Hell" is an anthemic rocker with a catchy, shout-along chorus ("From what I can tell/There's water in hell!"), and "Forced to Love" combines the band's usual grit and a hook that unexpectedly sticks, similar to "Cause = Time" from its 2002 breakthrough release, "You Forgot It in People." Strangely enough, the new album's less pop-driven songs are hit or miss--strings and pounding percussion build tension on the aptly titled "Chase Scene," laying the foundation for an irresistibly dark chant. But closing track "Me and My Hand" struggles to keep up; its droning vocals are no match for the rest of the set's fervor.