Broken Social Scene/Kevin Drew, Koko, London

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The Independent Culture

Among the litany of thanks that Kevin Drew, founding member of Canadian indie supergroup Broken Social Scene, extends to friends and family on his new album Spirit If... are thanks to "the man who taught me love is free, the breathing, the doctors, the sixty-two colds ...my right and left hand." This is a man with his heart on his CD sleeve, however eccentric.

Prefaced as "Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew, Spirit If..." this is the first in a series of solo albums to come from different band members but still under the BSS banner. A curious case of having your cake and eating it, this direction could be interpreted as a band break-up or a recognition of their individual songwriting talents.

Warm and fuzzy in sentiment and sound, BSS have a huge wall of it. Tonight at Koko, they sport four guitars and draw upon the sparkling rough-cut beauty and good humour of their heroes Dinosaur Jr and Pavement. Drew's vocals slide in pitch in that quintessential north American indie drawl.

"Lucky Ones" is an early highlight with densely packed rolling rock-folk lyrics and an incredibly catchy guitar "chorus", which is topped off with a big "Yeah!" "TBTF" begins with very strange lyrics ("Cats and christ put you in a tiny box that's filled with all victims")

Drew's bizarre love song is helped along by some trumpet refrains that hark back to the cafe ambience of the band's instrumental debut. Their single "You Backed Out On The..." is a raucous ear-blaster with psychedelic noodling solos lifting it to vertiginous heights. The chorus endearingly acknowledges its simple rock tune: "Everyone can write this song, but they can't write you and me."

While their albums are more experimental and textural, tonight's pared-back approach favours the more traditional rock structures. And the six-man line-up is sparse by BSS standards, which can plump up to a massive 19-member orchestral commune.

Perhaps the most unique song of the evening was "Gang Bang Suicide". In a cycling chant, Drew touchingly acknowledges: "They say that size doesn't count, but my heart is a house." Tonight, it's as big as Koko.

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