With Broken Social Scene on an indefinite hiatus, it’s difficult not long for what we simply can’t have – new material. Kevin Drew’s distinct voice may fill the void just a little bit, but his latest release, Darlings, is definitely not a BSS album.
While his 2007 album, Spirit If…, felt like a Broken Social Scene record, Darlings sounds like a vision that belongs solely to Drew. Although his classic songwriting tropes – repeated vocal refrains and frayed, behind the beat melodies – characterize the record, Drew managed to distance Darlings from the Broken Social Scene archetype. Guitars take a back seat and the focus turns to vocals rather than the indie-orchestral jams that have become so comfortably familiar.
His lyrics are promiscuous and never shy away from the bluntly physical. This is, after all, the same songwriter who brought us “I’m Still Your Fag”, “Lover’s Spit”, and “Cocaine Skin”. Drew has always been a lyricist that brilliantly accesses the emotional via the physical. With the lead single “Good Sex”, for instance, Drew reminds us that “Good sex will never make you hallow, good sex will never make you feel clean”. It’s a delicate confessional packaged in crudity.
“You in Your Were” is a highlight of the album, and perhaps its most elegant. With Leslie Feist on backup vocals, the chemistry and romance of Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People is recalled without making a direct reference. There is a certain level of maturity in “You can run but you can never, ever live a lie” that may have still been in development back in 2003, when that record was released. Darlings is both understated and refined; it explores sentimentality in a way so smooth only a veteran like Drew could pull off.
Kevin Drew makes love look cool.