Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pitchfork Rebuttal Corner

Pitchfork is an indier than thou musical e-zine that takes pride in reviewing albums you've never heard and referencing other bands you've never heard in said reviews. It's OK for them to like someone ironically, but not you, that makes you a douchebag. In honor of the new New Pornographers album Twin Cinema, which Pitchfork recently raved about, we compare their first two albums. See the loser at Pitchfork took part of his review to kind of crap on their second album, which most people might not be able distinguish from their first. See, the Douchefork reviewer probably listened to his free copy once in the limo on the way to the airport from some music industry junket to SXSW while doing a couple last lines of blow off the joint Can/Boredoms limited colored vinyl 12"- Finnish of course, the one that was packaged with the fake Warhol plastic eskimo pie, you know the one.

Cross-posted at Song of the Day.
Uncanny is doing the odds, Pinko is doing the evens as we compare the "inferior", according to Pitchfork, sophomore New Pornographers album Electric Version with the "superior" Mass Romantic. Uncanny's call in orange, Pinkos in red. Tell us what of your faves Pitchfork have murdered, or what pieces of crap they gave a perfect 10.0 to, or what they actually got right in comments!

MR 1. Mass Romantic - Title track, so you know it's going to be good. AND, it's a Neko Case lead vocal. Even better is hearing her voice soar above the chorus. Great driving guitar. There is also an excellent transitionary part sweet harmonizing. And the signature ending canon that sounds nothing like the rest of the track until you realize that it is a perfect mesh with the whole song.

EV 1. The Electric Version - Uh oh, another title track. This is going to be close. These tracks are actually very similar rhythmically, although the drumming is more prominent. Not a Neko lead, but same awesome Neko during the chorus. They even have the same vocal dissolution ending. Edge: Push Mass Romantic

MR 2. The Fake Headlines- Awesome, less hyper more of a slow burn (for them, meaning just normal up-tempo). Can't quite tell if Neko sings on this one, backing vocals obscured on my computer.

EV 2. From Blown Speakers- Similar tempo, very similar tempo to the above. Better synthesis between Neko and Carl- you can hear her, she is integrated into the song, even though just backing. Soft bit in the middle. Totally awesome. Edge: Electric Version Electric Version

MR 3. The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism - An incredibly fun and upbeat song. It keeps getting stronger as Neko and Carl start to sing together. The words are also very fun. One of the three strongest tracks on the CD. It even has the whole gigantic song change

EV 3. The Laws Have Changed - Very good track, but not one of the best. As usual, Neko's voice transcends everything else on the track. It is the closest thing that a NP gets to being repetitive, which is just barely. But the winner of clear. Edge: Mass Romantic Mass Romantic

MR 4. Mystery Hours. Just a complete hyper blast, although not close the strongest track on the album.

EV 4. The End of Medicine. Probably the weakest track on EV, just does not stand out. Edge: Mass Romantic. Electric Version

MR 5. Jackie - Fun song and by NP standard's kind of midtempo. The lyrics are fun and have creative words and rhyming couplets. The chorus is better than the main tune, but the best part awaits the fugue near the end of the song to the words "You gonna stop the sunshine". That blows me away every time! It's short and perfect.

EV 5. Loose Translation - Also a midtempo song and not one of the best tracks. It has a fun assortment of keyboard bleeps and some nice harmonizing, but actually is kind of a bit plain. Edge: Mass Romantic Mass Romantic

MR 6. Letter From An Occupant. We illustrate:
I'm told the eventual downfall/
is just a bill from the restaurant/
You told me I could order the moon, babe/
just as long as I shoot what I want/
What the last ten minutes have taught me/
bet the hand that your money's on/
Where the hell have the '70s brought me?/
You trade me away long gone/
For the love of a god, you say/
not a letter from an occupant/
The time that your enemy gives you/
good times are not the ones you want/
I cried five rivers on the way here/
which one will you skate away on?/
The tune you'll be humming forever/
all the words are replaced and wrong/
with a shower of yeahs and whatevers/
you trade me away long gone/
For the love of a god, you say/
not a letter from an occupant/
Where have all the sensations gone?/
It's the song, the song, the song that's shaking me/
It's the song, the song, the song that's shaking me/
It's the song, the song, the song that's shaking me/

What???? Such glorious nonsense and the song totally calls what it does to you in the song. Remember you only know the words because I told you.

EV 6. Chump Change. It almost doesn't matter, but in this case it is not quite fair, "Chump Change" is a Dan Bejar tune, and it is fashionable in some Pitchfork circles to crap on the Bejar contribs to NP, while when someone else reviews Bejar's other group, Destroyer, they claim to love it. Typical Pitchfork douchery. Bejar's tunes break up the album, but in a good way. Edge: Mass Romantic Mass Romantic

MR 7. To Wild Homes - Not one of my favourite tracks on this CD. It's kind of loud and without that much clarity. The final chorus is kind of nice, but the only really very good part of this song.

EV 7. All for Swinging Around You - Classic sounding NP. Also a Neko Case lead. It's a good comparison to Wild Homes, because it has similar melodic features, but is so much more advanced sounding and interesting. Not the best EV song, but still great. Edge: Electric Version Electric Version

MR 8. The Body Says No. A typical madcap blast as per their usual, a fun song.

EV 8. The New Face of Zero and One. Pretty straighforward until this sublime linear guitar meander takes over at the end and the song breaks down and goes to a different, amazing place, a place that kills in concert, and as soon as it starts it is gone, also hides some cool percussion in the very back. Edge: Electric Version Electric Version

MR 9. Execution Day - This is the very first NP song I ever heard, and it is still a mysterious song to me. Most of the song seems to be telling some kind of story that I don't get. But the song transcends halfway in the Execution Day part. The slower moving Wrens-y guitar line works so well with the singing style.

EV 9. Testament to Youth in Verse - This isn't going to be close, because this is the single greatest NP song ever!!!! The words are hysterical and the musical buildup is excellent. All that makes it an amazing song. But then out of nowhere they break into a capella singing a round of "The bells ring no no no no" and it keeps growing. Then it Neko joins and it keeps growing! Then the bells become more prominent and the voices add! Then the persistent piano comes in and the drums. And finally everything at once. It's a veritable musical orgasm! Edge: Electric Version Electric Version

MR 10. The Centre for Holy Wars. Most Sesame Street intro of all NP songs, super fun, but poor integration of Neko, it's like she's just sauce, when we all know she's more than that. Kind of repetitive, but has a nice little breakdown, the kind they do so well.

EV 10. The Divine Right. Perhaps the only NP song that could be too long. More straight ahead, prominent guitars not dressed in synths. Edge: Push. Mass Romantic

MR 11. The Mary Martin Show - Great great song. Right off the bat, the Carl Newman singing style sounds different and amusing. Everything seems hammed up in this song including the fake brassy synths.

EV 11. Ballad of a Comeback Kid - Great great song. It also has one of my favourite NP lyrics: "Everything was fine until membership lost its privileges". Normally, this would be a push, except the chorus of this song is a bit better, and it has the sentimental part near the end. Screw it, just the "Bat out of hell" lyric makes this song better. Edge: Electric Version Push

MR 12. Breakin' the Law. Not a Judas Priest cover. A woozy, lurching album closer. A great great tune.

EV 12. July Jones. A little bit of a reggae beat done in crunch guitar, midtempo, sets you up for the unexpected amazing album closer "Miss Teen Wordpower" as this song almost feels like a relaxed downshift before they kill you again. Edge: Mass Romantic, but not a fair matchup Mass Romantic

EV 13. Miss Teen Wordpower - It doesn't matter what song Mass Romantic has to go against this. It has the perfect Neko/Carl song play. And the coolest lyric "Because nobody knows the wreck of the soul the way that you do". Besides, the topic of this song is amazing. This should be the best song on the CD, except for the ungodly awesomeness of Testament. Regardless. Edge: Electric Version Electric Version [this counts for EV because it is better than every song on MR except "Letter..."]

1 point for each vote, 0.5 for a push, what do you know. 13.5-13.5. A total tie. And what album do I listen to more- Electric Version by far, more varied, clearer production, more sophisticated, more cohesive.