Apparently, Canada has seen fit to grace our ears with the delicious
musical stylings of The New Pornographers in an attempt to atone for the
musical sins levied against us by the likes of Bryan Adams and Alanis
Morissette. Anyone who has ever heard any of the
aforementioned artistsí so-called music certainly understands that some
serious ass-kissing was needed to repair the damage inflicted upon our
helpless ears. While The Kids in the Hall were certainly a step in
the right direction, our neighbors to the North clearly owed us something
That something more, as luck would have it, happens to be Mass Romantic,
the debut album from this Canadian patchwork supergroup.
Most notably, The New Pornographers are fronted by alt-country chanteuse
and budding international superstar Neko Case, but the band also features
members of Zumpano, Limblifter and Superconductor.
Though they hail from the Great White North, the group are well versed in
a variety of musical styles stemming from several points around the
Though it might seem strange considering the groupís lineage, a handful
of Mass Romantic's tunes have a distinctly British flair.
Take for instance "Jackie"'s quasi-nasal vocal delivery and carnival
organ stabs, which simply scream late '60s Swinging London. Or consider the
jagged, Stones-like riffs, buoyant back beat and gleeful "La La Las" of
"Letter from an Occupant" which will undoubtedly pepper your dreams with visions
of Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.
At other times Mass Romantic evokes the memory of an American pop
supergroup, the mythical and ever-changing Minus Five. Nowhere is this
more apparent than when the Pornographers heap layers of lush harmonies
atop a foundation of fuzzy guitars and militaristic drumming, as heard on
the crunchy "The Body Says No". Similarly, "The Slow Descent Into
Alcoholism"'s terse-yet-melodic guitar lines, playful keyboards and
twisting lyrical asides are quite reminiscent of Buck, Stringfellow and
Co.ís subtle masterpiece, "The Lonesome Death of Buck McCoy".
Elsewhere, the group delves into its collective bag of tricks to fish
out gems like the new-wave inflected stomp of "Mystery Hours", the
jubilant and spacey dissonance of "Centre for Holy Wars" and the simply
marvelous "The Mary Martin Show". Utilizing an army of tricks including a quick, instant riff, creamy tag-team vocals, juicy organs and
a wonderfully out-of-place saxophone solo, the song is a rollicking
power-pop-meets-glam stomper reminiscent of both The Raspberries and the
Thin White Duke himself.
Mass Romantic more than repays any musical debt owed by the good people
of Canada. In fact, itís going to take some pretty strong efforts by
America's best and brightest to match The New
Pornographers' achievements here. So get your ass down to
your local shop and pick up a copy of this beauty...because really, who
couldnít use some new porn these days?