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"You Gots 2 Chill"

Brendan Canning – You Gots 2 Chill
09 October 2013, 14:30 Written by Alex Cull

A lot’s changed in the world of Broken Social Scene co-founder and all-round nice guy Brendan Canning since he released his last solo album, Something for All of Us, back in 2008. His much-loved Toronto troupe offered up a divisive but very good final LP in Forgiveness Rock Record before deciding to call it quits altogether (save for the odd show here and there, of course, as is the done thing these days), he resurrected his long-dormant Cookie Duster side project, oh, and he played football with Ted Leo and Rivers Cuomo apparently.

Now, the great indie rock egalitarian returns with You Gots 2 Chill: a sophomore full-length that eschews the more theatrical tenets of his BSS years – anyone who’s ever seen Canning live will tell you how partial he is to a mid-song air kick – for blustery, fingerpicked folk. It’s clearly a labour of love for the Canadian: he’s taken a step away from his long-held home on the Arts & Crafts roster, designed the album art himself and recorded the entire thing in his living room. It’s also more than a little on the flippant side; feeling closer to a series of experiments than a polished suite of songs – something that feels more in keeping with Broken Social Scene’s more wayward non-canonical works (Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights, Bee Hives). With track titles like ‘Bullied Days in Buenos Aires’, ‘Plugged in 3:45’ and ‘New Zealand Tap Dancing Festival’ though, what more would you expect?

Announcing itself with the squeaking fretboards, hissing strings and sloppy chord changes of ‘Post Fahey’, You Gots 2 Chill immediately sets out its folksier intent; and yes, there’s a serious Elliot Smith influence present from the off. Something that’s only confirmed further as the subsequent ‘However Long’ introduces Canning’s trademarked hushed vocal tones; that syrupy larynx which has sprinkled so many BSS songs in softly sung pixie dust (his killer bass lines always helped too). It’s blissful, laidback and nonchalant like many of that group’s best sun-kissed jams, but leaning a whisper closer to Either/Or-era Smith.

Sadly, the curiosity piqued by the record’s opening duo is something that Canning struggles to maintain across its 14-track runtime. Sure, there are flashes of brilliance where studio trickery elicits intriguing headphone moments but these are by-and-large in the minority. If you’re of a scrupulous mind though, do listen out for the piercing high notes and mournful, robotic cellos of ‘Turn Again’; the crushing guitar chords that turn ‘Last Song for the Summer Hideaway’ into a Loveless for the coffee shop crowd; or the spellbinding guest turn of Snowblink’s Daniela Gesundheit on ‘Bullied Days in Buenos Aires’.

Perhaps it’s unfair to judge You Gots 2 Chill so rigidly. After all, the record’s very title declares the necessity of loosening up – the need to “chill”, that cheeky “2” that instantly de-formalises things – and as an off-the-cuff look into the mind of one of Canadian indie rock’s elder statesmen, it’s not half bad. Just don’t go looking for something for everyone here; this is all about the man, and not the collective.

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