Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kevin Drew, Darlings and Andy Kim

My story about the odd couple friendship between Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and "Sugar Sugar" legend Andy Kim—whose new record, due out later this year, was co-written and produced by Drew—is online at Maclean’s here.

It’s a necessarily condensed version of the 2½-hour interview I had with them both at Drew’s Toronto apartment, which was one of my favourite interviews of recent years. I recommend you read the expanded Q&A here.

My review for the Waterloo Record:

Kevin Drew – Darlings (Arts and Crafts)

Kevin Drew was due for an implosion. The Broken Social Scene bandleader started out making amorphous, ambient records before his band suddenly evolved into a rock’n’roll orchestra with a half-dozen guitars and just as many lead singers. Even his 2007 solo album, Spirit If, featured an even bigger cast of characters than found on a BSS album (including Tom Cochrane and Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis).

Following a BSS hiatus and a midlife crisis, Drew returns with Darlings, an album that features just five musicians (and one guest vocal from Feist). While it still has the rich synthesizers and reverbed vocals Drew always employs, it also features 12 songs he could ostensibly perform by himself, with no small army required to back him up. The result is the most melodic and direct Drew has ever been, and easily his best record next to Broken Social Scene’s 2002 classic You Forgot It In People.

Yet Drew can still be he own worst enemy: the two worst songs on this otherwise excellent album are the ones he chose as singles to preview the album, "Good Sex" and "Mexican Aftershow Party." Musically, they’re congruous with the rest of Darlings, but lyrically they’re repetitious and mundane—and, in the case of "Mexican Aftershow Party," could only possibly make sense to Drew or members of his band.

As befits a humbled man trying to regain his footing, Drew doesn’t reach for grandiose musical moments. Much of Darlings is intimate, mid-tempo and lovely; even at its most raucous, it’s still warm and inviting—and yet still finds room for sonic experimentation; it’s not a case so much of Drew watering down his approach as it is distilling it at a lower volume. The whole record is basically one big hug—which, if you’ve ever met Drew or seen him interviewed, should not be a big surprise.

Download: “You Gotta Feel It,” “You In Your Were,” “And That’s All I Know”

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