63.) The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic (2000)
Mass Romantic the record opens with "Mass Romantic" the song - an immediate hook-filled pronouncement by a band with enough chops that they would go on to more or less preside over the indie rock world for this entire decade. In 2000 though The New Pornographers were just a cleverly titled side project of some yet to be all that successful Canadian pop-heads. They were, and still are, led by Carl Newman who can best be described as this generations (add your own old pop genius here. I like Robyn Hitchcock.) So, in short The New Pornographers are awesome.
Mass Romantic was a refreshing return to pop for indie rock - a world that had become saddled by a whole lot of sad sack-y moping and if not that exactly then just a general lack of fun. But The Pornographers were certainly fun while still taking their arrangements seriously. These songs are superbly crafted pop gems that should have all been hits. "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism" may not sound like the sunniest topic to write a song about, but holy shit - it's one of the catchiest things I've ever heard.
When Mass Romantic was released in 2000, I was a junior in college and I was just finishing up a pop punk phase that had steered me through high school and right about up to that point (mostly Fat Wreck Chords, Epitaph and Lookout bands - things like that). Mass Romantic sort of re-invigorated a love of indie rock and more importantly, pop music, that was always there, but had been laying a little dormant. They are, in my opinion, so much more than just a supergroup, so much more than a side project - they're probably one of the top five bands of this decade and certainly one of my faves period. That this, their debut, sounds as good today as it did nearly nine years ago is amazing. It hasn't aged a day. It's gotten better.
Mass Romantic is also the home of the definitive New Pornographers song, the one that - if you're only gonna be able to listen to one - would probably it...the great, "Letter From An Occupant." It's rollicking and driving and the harmonies are seemingly off-kilter but at the same time absolutely perfect and it's Neko...oh Neko. What can I say? "Letter From An Occupant", like the rest of Mass Romantic and the whole New Pornographer canon is more than a song. It makes you want to be a New Pornographer. It makes you feel like you're at a party with these people who are having more fun than any other group of people has ever had in the history of fun and times, which is the greatest feeling a band can give you.
Plus the lyric, "I've cried five rivers on the way here/Which one will you skate away on?"
Posted by Pat Driscoll