Danielle St. Laurent Broken Social Scene will reunite later this year as…
- Posted on Feb 5th 2013 3:00PM by Sarah Kurchak
"There's a couple of elements that make it seem more like a comeback for me," Hayden tells Spinner. "They're a bit loose because, generally, it takes me two to three years between albums every time. This one was four years which, I guess, in the entertainment business, that's a lifetime. And also because I just decided to try some new things. Some of my business relationships have changed for this record. So it is a bit of a new chapter for me."
Those changes have happened on a number of fronts. Personally, the folk hero has become a dad. ("You should see how efficient I am when I have a block of time," he boasts when asked if raising his daughter and writing and recording a new album has forced him to hone his time management skills. "That being said," he adds with a laugh. "It did take me three years to make a record.") Professionally, he signed with the house that Broken Social Scene built, Arts & Crafts, after years of releasing albums on his own imprint, Hardwood Records and getting them distributed through Universal Music.
"After taking some time away, and with some distance, I realized it was time to shake things up a little a try something new," Hayden says of the switch. "I had a really great scenario with my own label and Universal's great help, but sometimes you need to push yourself to unknown territory. And when I searched for other options A&C were the clear... it was clear that they were the ones to try this with. And their connection to how things are just changing so quickly. I didn't want to spend a ton of my time trying to figure out how to get people to know I had a record out. I really wanted a team of people to sort of know how to do that, so that I could focus on the record and some of the artwork and stuff that gets put to the side if you're focusing on other things. It's been great so far. I even have a Twitter account."
Hayden hopes that his fans don't expect too much from his new online presence, though. He's not entirely convinced that he'll come across that well in 140-character bites.
"I think about what a good tweet would be and then I instantly delete it, or I think 'Why did I write that?' But yeah, I don't know if it suits my humor," he admits. "Sometimes a friend will text me something and, if I'm in a weird mood, I'll text some random response that I think is hilarious and I'll get a text back that says 'Weird' instead of 'Hahaha.'"
Even with a new addition to the family, a new record label and a tentative flirtation with social media, though, Hayden is still essentially Hayden and Us Alone is the work of an artistic who's maturing more than he's reinventing himself.
Juxtaposing the sweet and honest with the bizarre and unsettling, and delivering the whole package with his trademark lo-fi sound, it's still the same glimpse into the singer's soul and living room that he's been offering the world since his debut album Everything I Long For, won the hearts of proto-indie rockers and floor-sitters back in the mid-'90s. It's just that unrequited crushes at coffee shops and existential angst have, over time, evolved into tunes about grownup love ("Old Dreams") and parents trying to get their kids to sleep ("Motel") and the darkness now seems to be coming from an acceptance of his own mortality, with the impressively and unsettlingly detailed list of desires he delicately croons in "Instructions."
There's also "Almost Everything," a song that explores Hayden's career in detail and discusses the way that his relationship with his music has changed over time. It might sound like a career retrospective and a grand, chapter-closing statement, or like the work of an artist looking back on his past in light of a capital C Comeback, but the singer's hesitant to give the lyrics too much weight. In fact, he wasn't even sure that he wanted to include the track on Us Alone at all.
"I do a remarkable job of not thinking about the past too much, or even viewing the past as the good old days, or anything like that," says Hayden. "And similarly, I don't really look into the future much as well. But the song 'Almost Everything,' it just happened one night. I was in a particular mood and if I had been sitting at the piano the next night, it never would have been written. I guess I was just in a particular mood to write those words down. And then, the next day, it was almost... I didn't regret it, but I was like 'Is this something I want to put out there?' And then I just decided it seemed pretty honest and it wouldn't be right to throw it away."