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Mass Romantic
The New Pornographers
Mass Romantic
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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 more.

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 globe.

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?

-- Jason Jackowiak
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