This summer, Matador Records will celebrate the 21st anniversary of The New Pornographers’ debut record and breakout, Mass Romantic (2000), with a limited-edition LP reissue out December 10.
The album – clocking three singers and 12 effervescent and undeniable power-pop gems – will return to us on red vinyl and will include a bonus 7”, Letter From An Occupant, which includes two rare B-sides, The End of Medicine and When I Was a Baby.
Carl Newman – “Everyone wants to be successful but, hand to my heart, I had no delusions of success for The New Pornographers. To be here over 20 years later, still in the game, is something that I simultaneously take for granted (you just get used to it) and feel eternally grateful for. Been here so long that we can do one of those “let’s play that old album all the way through!” gigs. And we are doing just that. 2 nights per city: 1 Mass Romantic, 1 Twin Cinema, plus assorted “hits” from our storied career. Bejar is coming and God knows if we’ll get him again. When he moved to Spain 2 months after Mass Romantic came out, I thought he was done in the band and now 21 years later we’ve convinced him to come along for another ride. Just the nature of our band that it’s a special occasion when all the singers show up. Here’s to you showing up as well!”
The New Pornographers formed in Vancouver in 1997. The whole thing was Carl Newman’s idea – recruiting his favorite local talents Seven Samurai-style for an album that might stand up amidst their already formidable solo careers.
At the time, the parties involved included Newman, Dan Bejar (Destroyer), Neko Case, John Collins, Kurt Dahle, Fisher Rose, and Blaine Thurier.
All told, Mass Romantic took three years to complete and was initially released in 2000 on Mint Records. From there, momentum seemed to build one members-only message board post at a time, with a small and vocal crowd of fans giving rise to wider excitement – critical praise, radio play, a Juno Award, Ray Davies jumping on stage at SXSW, and so on.
The old-fashioned record industry-types at Matador first learned of The New Pornographers through a store, Aquarius Records. In its newsletter, the much-missed San Francisco institution called Mass Romantic “absolutely shiningly great power pop” and “recommended for everyone.” The shop stumped for the record fervently – playing it, displaying it, and generally carrying on about the music to all who would listen. In just one year, Aquarius moved somewhere near 200 copies.
Nobody at Matador (well, almost nobody) could argue with that and the label licensed the Mass Romantic for distribution in Europe and, ultimately, signed the band outright, giving the record a wide reissue in 2002.
And plenty of stuff happened after that! What’s important, though, is that The New Pornographers are going on tour, Mass Romantic is turning 21, and the record is back on shelves December 10th via Matador Records.