Broken Social Scene’s co-founder and front man Kevin Drew is thrilled to announce his most vulnerable, minimal solo album to date – Aging – set for release on Arts & Crafts this fall. A physical version of the album will be released on September 22; a full digital version of the album will be released on November 3. Aging’s sonic profile sits in a similar place as beloved Broken Social Scene songs like “Lover’s Spit” and “The Sweetest Kill” – beautifully dark, richly melodic, and tinted with shades of melancholy and longing.
Where other Kevin Drew songs throughout his vast and incredible catalog – both with BSS and as a solo artist – lean into the exuberant fist-pump of being alive, Aging is an album best played at the end of the night; a collection for the stragglers left when the bar is about to close; a serenade for those who are coming down; songs that are quietly sad but ultimately ruminative and comforting.
Influenced by the passing of friends and mentors, as well as the health scares 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?
Two songs from the album – “Out In The Fields” and “Party Oven” can be heard now.
Aging 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 more contemplative than anything Drew has released before.
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 fervor 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 that fit together sonically and thematically. “Pain is a hard thing to let go until you’re ready,” Drew explains. “And that’s kind of where I was at with this record. Music, for me, is a release – it’s a place where I can go and express what it is that I want to say.”
Aging finds the typically declarative Drew asking more questions than ever; late-night ruminations make up the beating heart of Aging. Even the most hopeful songs on the album sound less like a diagnosis of the times than a distressed recognition – the voice of someone who has imparted advice to people for years accepting that they may not have listened. There are times when it’s hard to know whether Drew is singing these songs to someone else or to himself. So much of the record is expressed outwardly to an audience – but given the sadness and loss at the core of the album, it’s possible these songs have become mantras for himself.
When he sings ‘I think you’re gonna get better / I think you’ll be back on your feet soon’ on the closing track, it’s as likely that he’s providing comfort to the listener as much as to himself. Indeed, therein lies the humility and vulnerability of Aging – an artist that has spent 20 years making empowering music and asking audiences to take care of each other is using the very same medium to take care of himself.
In addition to the release of Aging, Drew has compiled a collection of self-portraits and free verse “puke poems” into a 75-page book titled Towards Everything. The book will be available to purchase with pre-orders of the new record. Kevin Drew will be playing parts of Aging throughout this fall’s forthcoming Broken Social Scene tour.