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The New Pornographers - Electric Version (Cover Artwork)

The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers: Electric VersionElectric Version (2003)
Mint Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: adamAdam
(others by this writer | submit your own)

"Mass Romantic" is one of my favourite records of all time. It lies in somewhere in the top 5 of that mythical "desert island" group that music collectors obsess about. The first New Pornographers album found me at a time in my life when it most needed it and it has since engrained itself into my co.
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"Mass Romantic" is one of my favourite records of all time. It lies in somewhere in the top 5 of that mythical "desert island" group that music collectors obsess about. The first New Pornographers album found me at a time in my life when it most needed it and it has since engrained itself into my consciousness. A supergroup of Canadian indie rock veterans and a Virginian alt-country singer, The New Pornographers recorded extremely hooky, lyrically playful power-pop that somehow straddled 60s British invasion, 70s glam and 80s new wave in an entirely believable way. Think the Pixies, hyper-caffeinated and jamming on The Beatles' "Paperback Writer." That's the best I can describe it.

The above scenario logically makes "Electric Version" one of my most anticipated records ever.

Funny then that on first listen I all but ignored it.

That first spin perplexed me to no end. The amount of times I had listened to "Mass Romantic" built a barrier that simply wasn't expecting or immediately accepting of new material. The New Pornographers had changed, they had become denser, slightly more layered but with less immediate hooks (relatively of course, as this band still fits more in a few songs then some bands do across entire records).

As I commuted back and forth for the next week, "Electric Version" was constantly spinning. I wasn't entirely conscious of it but I may have listened to it exclusively for days. By the weekend, entirely to my surprise, the songs had fully permeated my mental blockage and I had once again sold my soul to this band.

"Electric Version" is a fantastic record.

While Carl Newman is now firmly in the drivers seat of the group, the other members contribute enough character and charm to keep this from becoming the next Zumpano record. Destroyer's Dan Bejar is far less involved for this album. While he only contributes three tracks, his stream-of-consciousness lyricism and less-structured compositions still loom large in the Pornographers' overall sound.

While the band's signature layered harmonies are still present, they're more realistic and becoming of a live performance this time around. In fact much of the record seems less studio-dependent than the band's debut. In particular, Kurt Dahle's drumming seems particularly well done and is quite engrossing. The addition of guitarist / keyboardist Todd Fancey brings the band a fuller sound as well. Tracks like "It's Only Divine Right" with screeching guitar solos is definitely something new for a band formerly reliant on synths, korgs and Wurlitzers.

After "Electric Version" had time to sink in plenty of brilliant moments came forth. Everything Neko Case contributes her vocals to on the album is golden. From the sweet chorus of "All for Swinging You Around" to her duets with Newman on "Miss Teen Wordpower" she proves to be the heart of the band. There's a little vocal inflection she throws in during the later half of "The Laws Have Changed" that completely owns me. Newman's start-stop vocals and timing dynamics in "From Blown Speakers" make it one of the record's best moments. The distorted upstroke guitars of "July Jones" interact with swirling keyboards as the backing for an interestingly downbeat version of Newman's indie-pop.

"Electric Version" is less instantly gratifying as "Mass Romantic," but may turn out to be more satisfying in the long term. With the band's solidified lineup and constant touring, what was at first a brilliant side project looks like it'll be around for a while yet.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (November 25, 2003)

Great album that makes me want to get up and dance. This one is definitely going on my top 10 of 2003. I can't stop listening!

Eddie (August 8, 2003)

Damn, this band is good.

Katie4213 (May 19, 2003)

i was pretty impressed with this album too.

adam (May 19, 2003)

Mint licenced it to Matador to release in the US. In Canada (where the Pornographers are from) its released with the Mint Records label.

adam

Anonymous (May 18, 2003)

Didn't this come out on Matador?!

Anonymous (May 18, 2003)

Breakfast tacos and homefries.

Anonymous (May 17, 2003)

dude, i'm glad ya liked the pics on kutie. you're welcome for the link. but that was a little toooo much information.

Anonymous (May 17, 2003)

I just wrote a rap, its crazy like that glue. Its called "the road less traveled."

theres traffic up ahead, closing down like a funnel
guess i'll have to take the fudge tunnel
tired of the same ol freeway
its time I explore the hershey highway
turn that bitch around and I'm starin at her booty
pull of her panties and it smells like booty
this hoe ever heard of soap
I don't know how Im gonna cope
with the smell, of her ass
smells like a corpse passed gass
I plug my nose as I go in
I'm beatin that as like I was shao lin
Pull out before i nut
oh wait i forgot, I'm in her butt
don't pull out when ya gonna nut
it dont matter cuz I'm in her butt
don't pull out when ya gonna nut
don't pull out cuz I'm in her butt
twat

Anonymous (May 16, 2003)

This girl lives in Chicago? I'm gonna have to go do it with her sometime soon.
-Jay

Anonymous (May 16, 2003)

ok...dammit scott....i submitted 4 different reviews almost 3 months ago and none have been posted....what's the deal?

Anonymous (May 16, 2003)

Too the person below me....those pics from www.kutie.com are amazing.....I just jerked it like 5 times to them while listenin to the laws have changed....sweet!

Anonymous (May 16, 2003)

if ya wanna see some good pics of neko, go to kutie magazine's website. i think its out of print now, but there are some good neko pics on there in lingerie and stuff. also, one of her topless. good times. she's also talked about doin playboy. talk about good times!!

http://www.kutie.com/

hungryjoe (May 16, 2003)

make that "Testament to Youth in Verse", not "Ballad of a Comeback Kid". I've only had this for 24 hours, and i'm still acquainting myself to it.

hungryjoe (May 16, 2003)

the biggest flaw of this is similar to what may be Mass Romantic's only weak point: not enough Neko. Once again, she's relegated to a mere 2 tracks as lead singer. but you do sit up and notice when she sings backup...

Carl Newman is on the cover of the current Exclaim! in case anyone is interested. I like quote he has about working with Dan's songs: "Dan would never have a 5-part vocal round at the end of this song. Let's do it!" (no doubt referring to "Ballad of a Comeback Kid").

Is it just me, or does Kurt Dahle look like a heroin addict in every picture he's in?

travis (May 16, 2003)

this is a pretty great album.

Mr_Pink (May 16, 2003)

Haven't heard this, but man oh man is Neko Case smokin'.

Anonymous (May 16, 2003)

This is a fuckin' great record. Top ten status ya heard!! Much props on Matador for releasing this. I know it's bit pricy but listening to "Electric Version," "July Jones," and "End Of Medicine" makes it all worth it.

Ramo
(isn't Ron Jeremy in that group?)

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