Broken Social Scene

For numerous indie bands, Bee Hives, recorded between Broken Social Scene's cerebral debut Feel Good Lost and its pop-friendly followup You Forgot It in People, would be a masterstroke. But for these Canadians, still glowing from last year's breakout success, it's simply a stretch of sometimes enchanting songs recorded with the ease and playfulness that come with downtime.

If anything, Bee Hives is the connective tissue between their two proper albums, a cohesion of the former's dulcet eight-track experiments and the latter's wistful melodies. Leslie Feist sings lead vocals on "Lover's Spit," a rerecorded version of a track on You Forgot It in People that opens with spare piano and is even more tugging than the original. BSS contributor Emily Haines soft-pedals her way through the airy "Backyards," adding to the serenity created by the unlikely pairing of synthesizers and banjo. All of the songs, particularly the laid-back electro-acoustic "Marketfresh" and the programmed pulse of "hHallmark," are a smooth counterpoint to the guitar rock that tempered the last album.

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Jeff Skruck