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The New Pornographers | Mass Romantic (Mint Records)
They're billed as 'Vancouver's latest ubergroup', but fear not, Bryan Adams is nowhere to be heard. It is, in fact, an amalgam of members of Zumpano, Superconductor, Destroyer and a few others, aided and abetted by county diva Neko Case. You're still not convinced are you? Well, you'll soon be giving it the benefit of the doubt the moment track 1 lopes into your ears. Ms Case, shorn of her country restrictions lets rip, while the rest play at 70's glam and powerpop like it never went out of fashion. The advantages of these 'supergroup' records surfaces by track four, the Cheap Trick like Mystery Hours, as they swap vocals constantly, gadding new interest and depth all the while. Out of all the vocals, it's Neko that grabs you. Her banshee warbling, like a crazed Kristin Hersh, takes Letter From An Occupant onto a different planet and clearing out your ears in one go. She should hang up her cowboy boots, for here is where she shines. When she's away from the mic some of the tracks sound too close to Guided By Voices for comfort, but is that really so bad? Luckily, for a 'supergroup' effort, most egos were kicked out and there's only a couple of indulgences to drag it, but none are as bad the actual 70's glam that the Pornographers clearly love so much, even the Roxy Music style saxophone is forgivable. It's time for Mr. Adams to relinquish his 'groover' tag, there's new kids in town.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001

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