Artist – Album: The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic
Released: 21st November 2000
Sounds Like: A lot of cooks make a lovely broth
Music is a medium where the phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” tends to hold true. I’ve seen The Great British Menu on the telly, and so I know that literally having a lot of chefs in the same kitchen does not necessarily mean rubbish food. Although they rarely make broth. And broth seems like the sort of food where you would hardly notice that it had spoiled – it’s not exactly fine dining is it?? Anyway… bringing in a load of top musicians has more often than not spelt disaster for a project, leading to bloated, directionless, overworked mulch. Supergroups are invariably disappointments (The Travelling Wilbury’s not withstanding), and regular groups with a surfeit of members have a tendency to implode before too long. The New Pornographers, however, stars Neko Case and Dan Bejar (of Destroyer) – both of whom have already had albumaday… blogs – as well as members of Vancouver based indie collective Zampano, and they have somehow managed to reign in all that talent to regularly produce gleaming records of brilliant indie-rock.
Having said that, at the time of Mass Romantic Case and Bejar were still just young hopefuls with silly names and so this album catches them as fresh and vital as they ever were. The record fizzes from one cut of sparkling souped-up pop-rock to another, only taking the odd, beautiful breather occasionally. The impossibly catchy ‘Letter from an Occupant’ was quite rightly picked out for special mention (making #88 on Pitchfork’s top 500 tracks of the decade), but it’s well supported by the likes of ‘The Body Says No’ and ‘Breakin’ the Law’.
Laden with more hooks than a fisherman’s boat, in an alternate universe this would have been a smash hit record and the parent to a plethora of top ten singles. As it is, it stands merely as a gripping album to a select few outside of its native Canada, and a testament to the fact that – sometimes – more is more.
Albumaday... rating: 8/10
1. Mass Romantic – 4:11
2. The Fake Headlines – 2:45
3. The Slow Descent into Alcoholism – 3:56
4. Mystery Hours – 3:11
5. Jackie – 2:46
6. Letter from an Occupant – 3:46
7. To Wild Homes – 3:33
8. The Body Says No – 3:56
9. Execution Day – 2:59
10. Centre for Holy Wars – 3:06
11. The Mary Martin Show – 3:19
12. Breakin’ the Law – 3:27
Listen to ‘The Body Says No’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C4P-mACPAI
Also released on the 21st November:
2006: Swan Lake – Beast Moans