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  Mass Romantic  
  The New Pornographers  
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I've been meaning to write this review for three months now. First off I was going to write about how awful it was that such a wonderful pop record as Mass Romantic could just flitter by underneath virtually every radar, mainstream or indie, as it did last winter. But then I waited about until three or four other rags and sites wrote that review, making it redundant for me to do so. So I put the disc on the back burner for another month or two. Not that it ever really fell out of listening rotation or anything. In fact, it's still right there, in my carrying case, going everywhere I go, just in case I need some Brit-pop-by-way-of-Canada mojo during the day.

My second great idea about writing a review of this disc was to mimic PostLibyan's trilogy idea. We've theorized on the site before about the general vibe of Eastern Canada / Toronto music these days and I thought it might be fun to compare and contrast a few other Canadian acts like The Black Halos and Propaghandi and, of course, The New Pornographers. But that turned out to be a lot of work, and besides, I took a vacation and forgot half of what I was thinking about anyway. So now I'm left with no real concept for this review, though I think a stripped down outline of that whole "what's up with Canadians" thing might still find its way into the light of day eventually.

I guess the third paragraph is as good a place as any to actually start talking about the record, huh? Mass Romantic is a wonderful little collection of Canadian Brit-pop. (Don't try to figure that out.) Of course, that doesn't tell you much of jack shit about the music, does it? Are they Beatles-esque Brit-pop, or are they Blurrish Brit-pop? Or maybe they're Morrissey Brit-pop? Housemartin-a-licious? "Brit-pop" doesn't really tell you fuck from all, does it?

We'll, they're not Idlewild. They're not Tricky. Mass Romantic blends a mostly Beatles-esque pop-hook catalogue with a dozen or so swirly organ sounds, only with the keys mixed well so they blend in with the stays-crunchy-in-milk guitar riffs and the sing-a-long lyrics. In short, they're everything all of those other reviews say they are. And they're pretty good at it. The band, The New Pornographers, is apparently a Canadian super group, too (although none of the members were in Loverboy at any time, nor is Bryan Adams present, so I'm unsure what the hell people are talking about when they say that.) Neko Case is the most recognizable name I can find in the liner notes, and she's only recognizable due to her tendency to undress during concerts. Oh well.

I like the disc. I really do. The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism and Jackie are near perfect pop songs, the likes of which just don't get made much any more. Letter From an Occupant stands well above most radio pop as well. And while the disc as a whole loses some momentum during the Execution Day-Centre For Holy Wars section of the program it never really bogs down to the point where you stop singing along. All told I'd give it 5 sponges. Mass Romantic isn't going to change many people's worlds, but it is a solid pop record, and while it will inevitably get bumped around by the newest, brightest, shiniest release of the week, you'll probably find that it somehow makes it's way back into the carrying case o' cds at the expensive some of those bright-n-shinies once the new stuff loses it's newness.

I just don't understand the idea of a Canadian super group that doesn't involve Bryan Adams.

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