The New Pornographers - Electric Version
4 1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 31, 2003
Review by Tony BonyataDon't pack up your beach blankets and boomboxes yet, kids, because with The New Pornographers' brilliant new release Electric Version - an album filled with some of the sunniest, feel-good power pop known to man - the warm rays and youthful exuberance of the season may well carry into January.
Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, the band - cheekily named after televangelist Jimmy Swaggart's book Music: The New Pornography - consists of vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter Carl Newman, keyboardist Blaine Thurier, drummer Kurt Dahle, bassist John Collins and guitarist Todd Fancey, along with the sugary vocal talents of secret weapon Neko Case. What ensues throughout the band's sophomore album are catchy numbers with shimmering guitars, airy four-part harmonies and one deliciously infectious pop song after another. In fact, the wonderful confection of compositions featured here seem to flow from Newman's cerebral wellspring as effortlessly as Dustin Hoffman counting toothpicks.
While there are many influences that seem to seep in - from the mid-'60s pop sound of The Beatles and The Kinks to brief glimpses of Syd Barrett's quirky psychedelia along with the angular punk of Wire, to the prototypical power pop of Big Star and Cheap Trick - the end result of Electric Version, however, is uniquely their own.
On the bouncy "The New Face of Zero and One" the band delivers a glam-rock wallop, while the hummable treats "From Blown Speakers," "The Laws Have Changed" and "Chump Change" stick to in the cranium like movie theater candy to teeth. Alt-country chanteuse Case even hitches up her twang for a spell on the happy "All for Swinging You Around" and the Big Wheel burn-out of "Miss Teen Wordpower", in favor of a huggable girl-next-door delivery.
With an album bubbling over with beautifully constructed songs, sun-kissed vocals, snappy rhythms, no-nonsense guitars and more hooks than a Minocqua baitshop, The New Pornographers are nothing short of the world's greatest living power pop band.
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