“When you’re aging, and those around you are aging – people get sick, and people die,” Kevin Drew says. “There’s no real way to convey your pain or grief without being self-indulgent within the high-five denial – but regardless of the personal details, it’s a reality.”
Aging, the third solo album from the co-founder of Toronto’s beloved indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene, was the inevitable title of Drew’s meditative new record – because he was living everything that comes with it.
Compared to his shambolic solo debut Spirit If (2007), with its 23-piece band and romantic musings, to the black-light synth-pop-tinged Darlings (2014) and its carnal obsessions, Aging’s collection of minimalist piano ballads is darker and more contemplative than anything Drew has released before.
Influenced by the passing of friends and mentors, as well as the health of friends and family, Aging brings together songs written over a decade marked by the signifiers of midlife – love, loss, and illness – all while wrestling with the hard truths of aging: How do you deal with the blunt-force impact of loss? What does it mean to look and feel different than you did before?
Across the eight tracks on Aging – which runs a compact but potent 33 minutes – can be found the spirit of Drew classics like “Lover’s Spit” and “Sweetest Kill,” but with a sense of sorrow rarely heard on previous material. The writer of some of indie rock’s most life-affirming and celebratory anthems has become world sick.
Lyrics like “We gotta find some time / Everybody’s dying for the time” from first single “Out In The Fields” are as doggedly hopeful as Drew has ever been – yet sound more like an impassioned plea than his typical rallying cry.
The themes that have preoccupied much of Drew’s two-decades-long career are still present – the power of love, resisting apathy, the pursuit of connection – but the subject matter once exclaimed with the youthful fervour of a wide-eyed idealist now carries the weight of someone trying to make sense of the world in the throes of grief.
In 2021, Drew found himself at The Tragically Hip’s Bathouse studio near Kingston, Ont. where he had been making records for the last decade. The initial goal was to make a children’s album, but as Drew and longtime collaborator Nyles Spencer started recording, they found themselves working towards an album about getting older, pulling from a collection of songs both old and new that fit together sonically and thematically.
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