Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  Electric Version  
  The New Pornographers  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

I am in the process of going through all of the stuff that I’ve been listening to this year and composing my traditional End of Year compilation. In so doing, I am running across a lot of music that has been integral and often omnipresent to my listening in 2003, but that didn’t get reviewed for one reason or another. These are three albums that fall into that category. I think the reason they never got reviewed is that, while I adore all three groups, and while I listened to all three steadily from point of release until now, none of them are really anything new or different from what the bands have done before, respectively.

It might make sense to read the reviews in the order I wrote them. Or not. Whatever.

  1. Electric Version by The New Pornographers
  2. Naturaliste by The Lucksmiths
  3. Red Devil Dawn by Crooked Fingers
Brendan's Disclaimer:
  Malimus, bless his heart, submitted this series of reviews in one document. That's all good and well, but i can't cram three albums worth of header information into that little space you see above. Therefore, i have broken this into three reviews, each on their own page. There is a fair amount of redundancy, but each review is designed to stand on it's own as well.  

If you scamper over to our review of Mass Romantic, and replace all of the specific references to the album title with Electric Version, and make a point to swap out song titles for new ones where referenced, you’re going to have a basically sound description of the latest album as well.

This album, like the others i am comparing it to, is slightly disappointing precisely because of it's predictability. That said, Electric Version doesn’t get dinged much at all for sticking close to the near perfect sound that the band crafted on their first album. I think it’s silly to complain about “formulaic sound” on only the second release, especially if the formula is so damned catchy as that of The New Pornographers.

But on another level, one probably needs to ask, why would bands who have already “found themselves” so to speak, and who all have rabid fan bases who support them, make changes to their sounds midstream? Simply to prove they can? That borders perilously close to beat-the-crap-out-of-the-pretentious-kid for my tastes. To make sure critics say gushy things about their “willingness to improvise and push their own boundaries?” Fuck critics. Most of us are on the wrong side of that same border anyway. Experimentation and expansion of palette is all fine and good, and I’d hate to live in a world where no one kept pop music alive and fluid by injections of the new, but they are not ends of themselves. Many fine musicians have churned out complete dreck in the attempt to prove themselves more than “just a pop star,” to the general detriment of the rest of us.

The point, I guess, is sometimes, you just want a freakin’ cheeseburger. Yes, it’s great to drop by the hole-in-the-wall Malaysian place for some piping hot pad thai, but you’d be rather sad if Zesto’s replaced good old number two with anything involving rice noodles. To me, all three of these bands are basically cheeseburgers, and while I can understand where some people might ask, “why can’t they add spicy mustard for a change,” I am personally fond of your basic yellow mustard in a squeezy-tipped bottle.

I believe my metaphor has run away from me. I’ll sum up with the big sponge assignment as pay off.

Electric Version is a grand album. I give it six sponges, with a tangible urge to bump it up to seven. The New Pornographers have taken, fuzzed out, multi-layered guitar and synth pop and more or less perfected the craft. They very well may be the best pop band working today. Everyone with a basic sense of rhythm and melody needs both of their albums. Go get them if you haven’t already. Track nine of Electric Version features the best mid-song breakdown since En Vogue’s Never Gonna Get It, by the way. It is a Cheeburger Cheeburger with everything, including the bag o’ chips.

Related Links:

Mass Romantic, the first album by The New Pornographers.


Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Album Review menu.