1997, Music

Glee (1997) by Bran Van 3000

I love genre-bending. A number of my most favourite bands are bands that can play a wide variety of genres well, and make these genres sound like their own – or, alternatively, convince you they are an entirely different band. So I should like this. I should like this even though it is based in music I don’t personally love (electronic, hip hop).

But this album has a glaring problem that I feel like comes along with all albums made by “collectives” – it has no overriding voice, there’s no sense of authorship. It’s almost as if the members of Broken Social Scene loved this record but thought they could do a better, indie rock version of it with way more songs. (Yes, this is a dig at BSS, simply because, though I like their music, I don’t quite get the hype around a band that cannot put together a coherent statement.)

This album feels like the work of a bunch of different bands put together on a compilation (much like BSS albums do, at times). That drives me crazy in part because it’s hard to tell what the voice is for any one of these competing “bands.”

The other problem, as noted by many people on rym, is that there are not enough strong songs. There are some, and then there are these experiments that just don’t work (though sometimes they are funny). It’s like the main composer of this music is stuck between wanting to be a DJ and a singer-songwriter who rarely sings his own songs. (Also, he’s not a great lyricist…)

Also, as someone on rym noted, this kind of like the logical conclusion of ’90s Beck, but without the songs and Beck’s (and his producer’s) vast cache of samples.


This may sound like a pan, but I appreciate the ambition, which is why I rated it above average. At least they’re trying, even if they miss the mark more than they hit it.

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