For years it’s been fashionable (with much justification) to routinely chide the musical output of Canada—the names Rush and Bryan Adams begin and end such arguments—but with this release, we’re gonna have to find another country to pick on. The New Pornographers (name courtesy of Jimmy Swaggart), featuring the incredible Neko Case on vocals, have made such a great album, tuneful, overdosed with hooks, that all the past sins of our Northern neighbors are forgiven. Well, maybe not Rush, but close.
This is pop the way it’s meant to be done. The title cut and “Letter From an Occupant” are as well constructed and enthusiastically played pieces of melodic madness as you will ever hear in a month of listening to Big Star or Velvet Crush, with Case’s wailing lovepipes leading the way. Gritty guitars, maximum cheese keyboards and harmonies you could hang a suit on, it’s all here. The songs that don’t feature Case on vocals—she’s only a part-time member of the group—are equally yummy, for example “The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism” or “Jackie”. So point the critical warheads away from Canada and give a listen to The New Pornographers. It will make your ears smile.