Published February 5, 2010
From its onset, Electric Version by The New Pornographers is immediately catchy. The album’s opening track, aptly titled “The Electric Version,” starts with frenetic drums that are quickly matched by a jumping guitar riff. When frontman A.C. Newman falls in with his soulful yet quirky vocals, you know it’s a match made in heaven.
The New Pornographers, formed in 1997, perform some of the most rewarding and pleasing pop music I’ve ever heard. Yet pop music, with all its negative connotations, is inherently hard to label with its wide classification. If pop is meant to be ‘pleasing,’ isn’t all music? If it’s meant to be simple, can we really say that The Beatles, arguably the creators of pop music, weren’t masters of their domain?
I propose that pop music at its essence is infectious and catchy. It just so happens that infectious music is easiest devoured by a mass audience that refrains from experimenting with the deeper layers of music. That’s not to say that The New Pornographers lack talent. Rather, the group’s greatest success is making simple pop music sound complex, in large part due to their varied songwriting and large size (the band boasts eight members.)
Thus, I’ve devised a new genre that I call “credible pop,” and The New Pornographers are the reigning kings. It’s pop with more content, more sophistication, and more layers. I hope the title sticks.
As a whole, Electric Version flows remarkably. There’s rarely a dull moment, with the band only slowing things down when necessary near the end of the album. Songs like “The New Face of Zero and One” offer sing-along chorus refrains, “It’s Only Divine Right” revels in fist-pumping glory, and “From Blown Speakers” is led by a catchy guitar riff. It’s an incredibly rewarding and pleasing album from a band you might never have heard of.
On a separate note, I have plans to set up a blog on the Hill News website soon. While writing about music is fun, it almost seems futile as I have no idea how many of you are actually going out and trying these albums (let alone reading this.) In that sense, a blog allows me to provide you with more direct access to the material. After all, my ultimate goal is to spread some good music around, not pass judgment on it. So I hope to have a blog upcoming with downloads, videos, interesting links and most likely, Phish rumors.