Arts & Crafts
Kevin Drew is primarily known as the founder, songwriter, and frontman of Broken Social Scene. He marks the release of his second solo album on March 18th with Darlings. Arts and Crafts’ press release notes that the album is “his first that is truly, to put it bluntly, solo”. While the album has many of the touchstones of Drew’s songwriting work in Broken Social Scene, it is a tasteful refinement of the ideas that made him so highly regarded in the first place.
It could be a testament to the fact that this is entirely Drew’s work, but Darlings features his strongest (and most varied) melodies since Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People. Lush synth pads fill out the middle ground, preventing the songs from feeling too stripped down but never overpowering Drew’s superb melodies. The extended guitar work is still here on tracks like “Bullshit Ballad”, but instrumental passages never overstay their welcome or enter ‘jam’ territory. Other songs are almost entirely electronic affairs – “You Gotta Feel It” is a particular stand out, a somber affair led by a minimal drum/piano loop.
Historically, Drew’s preferred subject matter has been tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendo, and he sticks to what he knows on Darlings. A good example of this is the opening song, “Body Butter”, where Drew sings “get the body butter baby, let’s go party all alone, you can feel the lights they’re coming on and off and on”. In a recent interview with Stereogum, Drew commented on his intrigue with “the emotional side of sex”. A self-proclaimed romantic, Drew remarked on his lack of patience for popular songs written by the misguided, narcissists and “people who don’t know how to fuck”. The best lyrical moments on Darlings make it clear that Drew is not one of these, and even at their most oblique, his words are immediately relatable.
Darlings is a welcome addition to Drew’s already legendary body of work, and a landmark in a career filled with high points.