The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic

The New Pornographers
Mass Romantic

A supergroup of sorts, The New Pornographers is something of a side project for its individual members, which include Dan Bejar of Destroyer, folk-country singer Neko Case, Carl Newman of Zumpano, John Collins of Thee Evaporators, Kurt Dale of Limblifter, and filmmaker Blaine Thurier. The real wonders here, however, are Case, who sings on several of the best songs here, and Bejar, who writes most of the songs and adds his tell-tale vocals.

The music on Mass Romantic is unbelievably catchy Brit-pop style rock, bouncy and purely pleasurable. Not since the Beatles and the Stones has a band managed to make such catchy and bouncy music sound so fresh and still rock. And that’s not to say the Pornographers are sounding like a re-hashed version of those bands, for while they tip their hats to the Beatles often, their sound is decidedly modern indie-rock, perhaps one of the best indie-rock bands to get so little notice ever.

The title track kicks off with one of the most catchy and up-beat piece of pop rockdom I’ve heard in years. If you’re not singing along with Case and bopping your head in no time, you must be dead. And if you think you’re immune, you’ll definitely sing along to the chirpy “The Slow Descent into Alcoholism,” perhaps the band’s best song here. The blazing guitar-rock of “Mystery Hours” shows off one side of the band, while the next song, “Jackie” shows off another with vintage Bejar keyboard-driven pop and a kind of melancholy psychedelica.

Case’s vocals sound so perfect on this album, leading off the almost punk-ish number “Letter from an Occupant,” another stellar song with its playful “woo-ooo” and driving guitar lines. On “The Body Says No,” you get a heavy dose of keyboards and horns contributing to the most light-hearted pop song on the release. “Centre for Holy Wars” is a pure rock song, full of numerous singers, layers of guitars over keyboards, and just a pleasant, Monkees-esque beat. “The Mary Martin Show” is an upbeat rock song that lays on the moog and even some saxophone, while “Breakin’ the Law” is a bit more psychedelic, with a veritable circus of sounds and vocalists, sounding more like your favorite Elephant 6 band.

At times sounding like vintage British rock, at times like modern indie rock of the purest pop sensibility, The New Pornographers never sound like they’re not having fun. This is a group of like-minded musicians getting together and enjoying themselves, and there’s nothing better for the soul than that. Of course, it helps when they’re all as talented as these folks. This is an excellent album you’ll doubtlessly listen to over and over again.