The New Pornographers

Electric Version (Matador)

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Every once in a while, you encounter an album you just don't want to think too much about. Listen to, yes; think about, no -- out of blind fear that the intellect will puncture the blissful contact high you get from the music.

The New Pornographers' Electric Version is one of those records: a beach party in a box -- it comes out with guns blazing on the first track and doesn't let up. The Canadian "supergroup" (its best-known member is alt-country belter Neko Case) injected a similar dose of adrenaline into 2000's Mass Romantic; this album picks up the sugar-buzz synths, arena-sized choruses, and glam-sequined shimmer right where the band's debut left off. It's the perfect soundtrack for highway driving in July, made more for sing-alongs than for such questions as "Could this album be even sunnier than the last Beulah record?" or "What was that band's name again? The Warm Jets?" Sure, you could play every indie-rock fanatic's favorite game of Name-Check That Influence, but the songs will fight you to give up and get back to the fun ASAP -- and the songs will win. Turn on, tune out: Summer's here.

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