2002, Music

Mass Romantic (2000) by The New Pornographers

Will never understand the big deal with power pop. I’ve listened to many power pop albums over the years and I just don’t get why people like it so much. I can only conclude that the people who love power pop – and get way too excited by records like this – like different things than I do.

This is a collection of catchy, peppy power pop songs. At times there is possibly enough quirk to earn the label “indie pop” but most of the time that’s not true. (And frankly, if this is “indie pop” plenty of other things that I wouldn’t label “indie pop” suddenly become “indie pop.”). If you like super poppy pop with energy and a tiny bit of quirk, you will likely like this record.

I’m not really familiar with the constituent bands – beyond some of Neko Case’s solo work – but I’m not surprised this music is catchy. I know of their reputations and so I’m not surprised the material is catchy and reasonably well written. Certainly, if you’re going to succeed in this genre, you need songs. This record has a decent set.

But, for me, if this music is to succeed, it’s got to be either really high energy or weirder. And this record is somewhere in between – it’s not anywhere near as high energy as a band like Supergrass and, as I said before, it’s just not particularly quirky.

As others have noted, things improve noticeably in whenever Neko Case sings lead. But she doesn’t do that much, and is often just a backing vocalist for the guys who write the songs. This begs the question, why have her in the band then? And I don’t know the answer. But I do know that I would like this record more if she was the lead singer.

The sound of the record is pretty polished, especially for something some people claim is “indie pop”. It’s rehearsed and put together. Another thing I don’t love in my power pop.

If you read the contemporary Canadian music press this is some kind of great, classic record. And listening to it, it’s hard to see how unless you just really, really love either power pop or the songwriters involved. Given I don’t really know those songwriters and I don’t care much for power pop, I really don’t get the big deal.


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