This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
A couple of years back, Ray Davies joined The New Pornographers onstage at South by Southwest to play the deep Kinks cut Starstruck.
The pairing couldn’t have been more apt. Nor the choice of song — and I’m not referring to the Pornographers’ state of mind at the time. I’m talking about the fact that Carl Newman — the main vocalist and songwriter of this Vancouver indie-pop sextet — seems to take his inspiration not from classic pop hits of guys like Davies and Todd Rundgren, but from their more unusual and idiosyncratic album tracks. He mined that vein pretty heavily on the Pornos’ beloved 2000 debut Mass Romantic. Not surprisingly, the followup Electric Version finds him (and the band’s other main songwriter Dan Bejar) returning with a new batch of semi-precious gems.
Once again brimming with top-notch songcraft, complex melody, intelligently wry lyrics, ringing guitars, bouncy beats, sunny keyboards and plenty of luscious harmony (courtesy alt-country songbird Neko Case), these 13 cuts are the sort of songs that might take a while to grow on you, but end up hooking you forever once they do. Granted, there’s nothing here as instantly addictive as Letter From An Occupant. But given Newman’s mentors, that just means he’s on the right track.