Review Summary: Electric Version is a simple, sweet, and highly addictive record that will stick in your head for a long time to come.
When you are passionate about music, you are constantly seeking out new music to challenge yourself, expand your horizon, and defy your expectations of what music can be. Trying to grasp and understand demanding music can be a formidable task, like trying to finish that hefty 20-ounce steak at your favorite restaurant. But once an album like Electric Version
is served to you on a platter, you realize you do indeed have room for dessert. Sometimes an instantly accessible, sonically pleasurable power pop album like this is exactly what you need to tickle your fancy. The New Pornographers' second album is an ebullient slab of indie rock that frolics through one unforgettable hook after another.
is really a simple record for those who bother dissecting it, but there is a sophisticated lineup at play here. There's your orchestrated setup of multiple guitars, drums, keyboards, bass, and a resourceful grouping of musicians who as The New Pornographers have come to be regarded as a quasi-supergroup. Given how tight and outstanding the songwriting is on this record, it's not hard to believe that these guys are more than just a typical band. However, The New Pornographers are not looking to demolish musical barriers or even straddle any fences. They stick to what they do best, writing buoyant, pop songs that become addictive right from the get-go.
This is an album where any one of its 13 songs could be someone's favorite. That's probably because there really isn't a weak track on the album, just a strong testament to the band's charm. "The New Face of Zero and One", the title track, and "July Jones", all have an equal probability of brightening someone's day. So yeah, this is a fun album - delightful, in fact. Nevertheless, it's more than just a fun album since the group holds dear a few secret weapons that lend plenty of juice to this free-flowing pop machine. One is their devotion to melody and another is critical vocalist Neko Case. Neko's voice absolutely steals the show on ditties like "All for Swinging You Around" and "The Laws Have Changed", mainly because it's so effervescent and, when mounting the crests of giddy keyboards and electric guitars, undeniably sexy.
Carl Newman really hits a sweet spot vocally as well, nimbly guiding the hospitable melodies on songs like "From Blown Speakers" and "Loose Translation". Of course, it's always exciting when Neko and Newman share the spotlight, like on the closing track "Miss Teen Wordpower", where they sing "We float through the streets, breathe city lights", a perfect summation of the album's open arms. There is not a humdrum moment to be found, as The New Pornographers are constantly hurling the listener into their own live setting where every instrument carries the distinctive spirit that continuously keeps the music at least a few feet off the ground. For instance, the concise track "The End of Medicine" proves extraordinarily tantalizing in the most merry of ways. Leading off with a light tambourine, the song quickly flares up with some white-hot riffs and spiraling keyboards. It all wonderfully amounts to one of the album's most vivacious tracks, and even Newman's excellent vocals can't keep it tethered for long.
sounds like a very communal effort in that the band always sounds united, intoxicated by the aroma of elation. "It's Only Divine Right", for instance, sounds like the product of sheer exhilaration, a song that feels urgent and almost impromptu. So sure, The New Pornographers are not life-changing, but their music just might follow you around for weeks after hearing it. The band successfully assembles a collection of pop tunes that are extremely easy to get into but far from sounding like fabricated radio-ready luminaries. Instead, the group faithfully showcases its own unique attributes, which are quirky and likable. The New Pornographers play on the idea that less is more. Plus, their simple, unsullied melodies carefully garnished with crisp instrumentation as well as vocals from Newman, Neko, and even Dan Bejar are an absolute joy to hear.
Beyond their accessibility, The New Pornographers build on their strengths as talented songwriters, never missing an opportunity to enchant. There are no tricks involved here. Electric Version
is a record that requires little effort from the listener, and its easygoing tone is both enjoyable and uplifting. It's still one of the catchiest power pop albums out there, and it further solidifies the band as a splendid treat for the ears.
The End of Medicine
It's Only Divine Right
All for Swinging You Around
From Blown Speakers
Miss Teen Wordpower