Collectives are hard work, and that strain is heard on long awaited comeback Hug of Thunder. The sheer amount of effort exhibited here is obvious, but the results are thrilling. This is a rollicking, sometimes messy ride.
After a brief interlude, the album roars into life with ‘Halfway Home’, and you feel a wave of relief; BSS relishing this comeback moment. A fifteen part ensemble, now bolstered by Feist and Metric’s Emily Haines, is quite a crew to cajole. That might explain the seven year wait. But here we are, and they sound very happy to have us along for the ride.
From the ramshackle forward momentum of ‘Halfway Home’ the pace rarely lets up. This isn’t an adrenaline ride, no raucous rock’n’roll trip, but an adventure nonetheless; the tales of a group of friends with a multitude of experiences, inspirations and sounds. This is a mammoth set of songs, and though it’s pieced together with a patchwork of disparate sources, the sense of scale is palpable.
The taught indie rock of ‘Protest Song’ carries a strong Metric imprint, whereas ‘Skyline’ has a folky twang, and ‘Stay Happy’ is kooky, conversational alt-rock that sounds like the early works of Sheryl Crow. ‘Vanity Pail Kids’ sees BSS kick it up to peak momentum, with the second half of the album slowly coming down.
Hug of Thunder is vivid, pulpy and adventurous. While there is a lack of focus, the sheer diversity of styles and huge sound clinch it, with strings, horns, flutes and the kitchen sink thrown into this. Indie movie emotion with a blockbuster sound, this is powerful stuff.