Mass Romantic is a barnstorming debut from the New Pornographers, a collection of Vancouver-based indie rockers. With chief songwriting duties falling into the hands of Destroyer's Dan Bejar and Zumpano's Carl Newman, the album displays a decidedly power pop form of indie rock. Guitars wail and ratchet as keyboards swirl toward every direction of the compass. The vocals, handled by Bejar, Newman, drummer Kurt Dahl, and alt-country star Neko Case, are sung in a style that delivers maximum catchiness. The band displays a keen sense of musical history, as the songs cover influences ranging from the Beatles ("The Mary Martin Show") to David Bowie ("The Slow Descent into Alcoholism") to T. Rex ("Mystery Hours") to Todd Rundgren ("The Fake Headlines"). Mass Romantic is noisy, fuzzy, crunchy, and hook-heavy. It's an album that reveals its charms through repeat listens, and makes a listener wonder how the band can master so many different musical styles via so many vocalists while still maintaining a fiercely cohesive sound. Case, who has previously proven herself a master of warped country crooning, proves herself equally accomplished in the world of rock swagger with her vocals on "Mass Romantic" and "Letter from an Occupant"; she provides background vocals on a number of other tracks as well. In some better alternate reality, Mass Romantic's bitter yet sugary staccato treats would have burnt up the charts with hit single after hit single.
AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina