Electric Version Import
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The New Pornographers' debut album was the stuff of legend, a near-perfect collection of catchy songs filled with lush sonics, anthemic sing-alongs, and retro pop hooks. Seemingly out of nowhere, the band--featuring Zumpano's Carl Newman, Destroyer's Dan Bejar, and alt-country goddess Neko Case--forged a power pop masterpiece. Electric Version is, thankfully, not all that different. For its 45 minutes, the album never eases up on its great influences; you're treated to a baker's dozen of memorable tunes that harken to prog-rock, New Wave, and the British Invasion. The lyrics are goofy, the production fills your stereo (like the best, most upbeat tracks by Wilco or the Flaming Lips), and the alternating vocalists keep things fresh. The songs only get better as the album progresses; "Chump Change," "Ballad of a Comeback Kid,"and "July Jones" are three that standout. Somehow this indie supergroup is making classic rock ... today. --Jason Verlinde
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Top Customer Reviews
Okay, so with that said, Electric Version is a conglomerate of talented musicians coming together to create a sound that's not necessarily new; it's only just being re-introduced to the 2000's. It's sort of a mixture of different types of 60's retro pop mixed into the rock music of today. Think of The Shins, think of The Lilys, think of The Wrens, think of any band that uses an organ as a main instrument....
The mixture of male and female vocals is usually not one of my favorites, but with The New Pornographers, it really works. I think it's more because of Neko Case being the female singer than anything else. Either singer could certainly sing on the CD independently, and it would still be a great release.
I think any fan of some of the abovementioned bands would love The New Pornographers. In 2004 I can't say it's certainly a fresh "new" sound for music today (seems there has been more of an influx of this same sound since Electric Version's release), but if you're trying to discover another band that fits the bill, then The New Pornographers is one for you. The more I listen to it, the more I love it.
But the more curious thing about the album than it's Meatloaf-on-Lucky-Charms blast from a Little League past, or mini- romp with Wings, the Pixies and even a little Kinks, is that the lyrics sound hesitatingly like... Christian rock. They aren't printed, but you can make out enough of the words to seal that deal. There's a song titled 'A Testament to Youth in Verse,' where the N.P. manage to throw in, "Can we control ourselves for once/ keep our hands off each other/ keep our minds on the sum of each other's souls." In 'Loose Translation,' a narrative song about a girl in a green shirt, the ball starts rolling with "One holy ghost for a holy girl." And 'The Laws Have Changed' sports this refrain: "All hail/ what will be revealed today/ when we peer to the great unknown/ from the land of the throne," topping it off with a chorus nah-nah-nah-ing "form a line to the throne." But the tiny lyric to tip me off in this direction was from 'It's Only Divine Right,' which might have said enough right there: "you hair parted like the red sea." Very particular, not that random.
Perhaps this was just another instance of theme-and-variations. Or perhaps these are the tentative stanzas of passive-aggressive Christian rockers, albeit with a real sense of music. The case was closed for me when I found the band pulled its name from a comment Jimmy Swaggart once made about music.
Enough said.Read more ›
Which is not to say it does not contain the same level of talent and near-genius. As duly noted by other reviewers, "From Blown Speakers," "The Laws Have Changed," "The End of Medicine"--these songs deliver all the goods the New Pornographers are famous for. Carl Newman's engaging voice, great wordplay, and boundless songwriting skill makes all of his tracks winners--even if there is no "Letter from an Occupant" or "Fake Headlines" to completely obsess you. Neko Case's voice, again, elevates any song it touches into the stratosphere--though "All for Swinging You Around" is somewhat pedestrian (if only by NP standards) and Neko appears too infrequently. She is the band's equivalent to the "hyperspace" button, but the group is far too severe in keeping her from us.
While "Electric Version" bubbles over with the same baroque detail that continues to reveal itself with subsequent listens--perhaps more rewarding in that sense then their debut--there is less sense of abandon and more sense of formula this time around. This may be a product of diminished expectations, and this most excellent band gets the benefit of the doubt--but I won't be playing this with the almost alarming frequency I (still) play "Mass Romantic."
I'm old enough to remember the great pop music of the late 70's / early 80s and this CD feels right at home with my XTC, Elvis Costello, Clash, Bowie, the Kinks, with a fresh energizing feel that's missing from the all-too-prevalent "manufactured" music. (Note to big record companies: finding & promoting great music like this would bring profits back faster than litigation.)
For lovers of pop, this is definite antidote for the bland corporate drivel mucking up the airwaves today.
Most recent customer reviews
The anthems are why I like this album so much. In fact this album takes me to work and back. It might even be jammed in my stereo on purpose too. I cannot get enough of this band. Read morePublished on April 30 2005 by Shane
Part of me doesn't want to write this review. This music is the most wodnerful, poppiest, catchiest music you will ever, EVER, hear. Read morePublished on June 2 2004 by Bob
Power pop should always be this fun. Nearly every song is a great singalong. If you are used to straight-up power pop, this one may take a few spins. Read morePublished on May 27 2004 by Mac6uffin
This band has done a great job. They have created a very solid sound. One of my favorite c'd.'s to turn on really loud and dance around to, it has the ability to release so much... Read morePublished on April 30 2004 by Leigh Warners
I first heard of the New Pornographers when I bought a white stripes cd. THEY SOUND NOTHING ALIKE. although i like the white stripes, the new pornographers are genuises. Read morePublished on April 23 2004 by Laura
After hearing these 12 nearly flawless songs it's hard to believe The New Pornographers aren't more popular than they are. Read morePublished on April 22 2004 by Matt James
From the outerlands comes a superior work that could make stone-faced warriors rid themselves of weapons and pride, and break furiously into an air-guitar romp. Read morePublished on April 21 2004 by Engel4Life
There seem to be three things people want to know about this CD: is it really that good (yes), is it as good as Mass Romantic (no), and does it have enough Neko Case for Neko Case... Read morePublished on April 15 2004
Energetic, surprisingly highly energetic indie rock from Neko Case and her Pornographers. Actually, she's got a huge amount of talent all around her including Carl Newman... Read morePublished on March 18 2004 by Jellybones
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