Album Review: Kevin Drew—”Darlings”

By Ayla Shiblaq

Kevin Drew’s 2007 release of Spirit If acted as a buffer in between Broken Social Scene’s self-titled album and their fourth album, Forgiveness Rock Record. However, Drew finally abandoned the “Broken Social Scene Presents…” title to break free from the famous Toronto indie band’s sound, moulding his identity as a solo artist in his new album, Darlings.

From the U2 vibes in the built up choruses and use of reverb to a basic instrumental, Darlings is almost the complete opposite of what we are used to hearing from Drew. It’s clear, it’s simple, and, most of all, it is comforting.

Darlings is an intimate examination of life with a concentration on love, heartbreak, forgiveness, and regret. Throughout Darlings, Drew gives the listener valuable pieces of advice. “Fate is a horrible song,” Drew sings in the opener, “Body Butter,” reminding us to be less dependent on waiting and more dependent on action. Drawing from his life experiences, Drew becomes a mentor to his listeners, a departure from performers’ typical personal entitlement, reminding us that life is reliant on what we do as people, and answering the questions we ask in love from the beginning to its ending.

Instrumentally, this album is nothing spectacular but rather the opposite: quite modest. Moving from Drew’s niche in a 30-member band, he scales down to a five-member band, including Broken Social Scene alumnus Charles Spearin, Dave Hamelin from The Stills, and appearances by other BSS alumni including Brendan Canning, Feist, and Jimmy Shaw. With a little help from his friends, Darlings, though modest, is effective in pulling the emotional heartstrings intended and utilizing instruments new to Drew’s repertoire.

The album doesn’t end with the eleven tracks on the record. If you call the 1-800 number (1-800-882-7151), which was originally placed on napkins and now found in Drew’s recent advertisement for the album, you’ll hear three B-sides from the album with a child providing instructions on how to access the three songs along with even more advice: don’t be a coward by always being courageous. These three songs are an exception to Drew’s sonic departure from Broken Social Scene in Darlings, serving as a reminder of how important BSS was to Drew personally and artistically.

Drew’s the kind of artist that wants to give you everything he can from advice to comfort. Darlings is his manifesto. This album at first listen is not anything extraordinary, but just like a new friend, get to know it better. Throughout, you’ll find positive vibes, comforting bass lines, and epic repetitions tarnishing your first impressions and becoming your new musical safety blanket. (Arts & Crafts)

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