44.) The New Pornographers - Electric Version (2003)
What can I say about The New Pornographers that I haven't already said in the previous two entries (and what will I say later, when I, spoiler alert, have to do it again)? For me, The New Pornographers' output is probably the strongest of any band this decade. There aren't any bad songs across their four records. Sure, some aren't as good as others but you could put on all four records in a row and I'd be hard pressed to find a track to skip.
Electric Version is TNPs second record and one that found them really sounding like a fully functioning band rather than just a group of friends getting together to just "try some shit out." So, Electric Version is a bit more streamlined and focused and maybe not as surprising as Mass Romantic was, but I still think all in all it's a stronger record.
Electric Version was the record that saw The New Pornographers cease being a side project for many of its members and it's that "we're all in" attitude that seemed to have led the band to a greater heights. A "we can make something of this" attitude, if you will. The songs on Electric Version are so tightly constructed and fun as hell and AC Newman proved himself as a truly ace songwriter with Electric Version. "From Blown Speakers", "The Laws Have Changed" and "July Jones", just to name a few, are pop bliss complete with sing along choruses and cascading arrangements.
Of course Bejar comes in with perhaps the record's oddest track, but incidentally also one of its best with "Testament To Youth In Verse." Hearing the band members come in at the end imitating the sound of ringing bells is a truly magical moment. And of course there's Neko who, in typical Neko fashion, slays the shit out of "All For Swinging You Around" a track that almost (yes, almost) rivals "Letter From An Occupant."
All in all, Electric Version is a record that really announced that The New Pornographers were not a fluke, not merely a collective, but a super group in the truest sense of that term.
Posted by Pat Driscoll