It’s a bit of a stretch to call a band featuring members of assorted Canadian indie-pop acts a “supergroup,” but this one sure made a super record–a giddy tumble of pure pop whose frothiness is balanced by a density worthy of Phil Spector. The hook-crammed Mass Romantic (on the Vancouver label Mint) was made under the direction of Carl Newman, whose old bands (Zumpano and Superconductor) never sounded this powerful. The production, by bassist John Collins (Evaporators), leaves no room for air: the drums wallop, the guitars expand like newly wetted sponges, and the 60s-style keyboards bleed into every remaining crack and crevice. Though they blend the elaborate vocal harmonies of the Beach Boys, the sugar-buzz glam of Sweet, the tight pop-rock crunch of Cheap Trick, and the twitchy energy of skinny-tie new wave, the New Pornographers’ originals are too catchy to come off as retro. The songs are familiar but fresh, and the revolving vocals by Newman, Dan Bejar (Destroyer), and the Chicago-based Neko Case–whose high-octane wail and enormous range distinguish the album’s two best songs, “Mass Romantic” and “Letter From an Occupant”–only enhance the impressive variety among them. Mr. Rudy Day, featuring Case’s sometime backing guitarist Andy Hopkins, opens. Sunday, February 25, 9 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia; 773-227-4433.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Catherine Stockhausen.