Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Most Serene Republic / Underwater Cinematographer / Rating 6.8

uber-stereotypical Trekkie

So many records so little time. I can’t believe how behind I am. There are at least ten records I have been meaning to review, maybe even more. I think Most Serene Republic fell through the cracks because I wrote a review of this cd for a magazine ages ago and in turn my brain filed it under done and done.

I feel bad for Canadian bands these days because inevitably one of several bands are positioned along side them in the context of their review. Canadian band = Broken Social Scene or Arcade Fire or New Pornographers...and now Wolf Parade. As I am looking up this record on line I believe the first ten reviews I have read talk about at least 1 or 2 of the bands mentioned above. I wonder if this happened to Canadian bands when the Bay City Rollers and April Wine were king?

Most Serene Republic deserve better damn it.

Secondly when a band releases something on Sub Pop or Matador music journalists do not instantly compare the band to other artists on the label roster. It’s a shame that the only point of reference these writers have is A) Canada and B) the Arts and Crafts roster which yes does happen to include Broken Social Scene.

Again, Most Serene Republic deserve better.

I embrace “Underwater Cinematographer” for the same reasons I still worship Built To Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love*. The charm of both bands is a lack of perfection that is otherwise made up for with a playful energy and a cockeyed pop sensibility.

I can’t be certain of the meaning behind the songs but it sounds like they mean it, whatever it is. Some bands just sound honest and when I say honest I mean they don’t sound like they are trying too hard to sound just like anybody else. I’ve read many a review that mention Death Cab and Postal Service ( and FYI: Ben borrows from Built To Spill heavily) but other than the fact that all of these singers (I am including Doug Martsch here as well) can’t exactly carry a perfect tune. PFM mentions the Flaming Lips and yes, Wayne Coyne is a member of that club too. J Mascis …I mean the list could go on forever. I don’t believe this is a copycat situation, I think what it boils down to is there are a ton of talented musicians out there who we have grown to accept and love but whose voices are the drunk drivers of pitch.

I’ll take personality over pitch any day.

The term honest can be a polite cover up for clumsy musicianship but in the case of Most Serene Republic there is an unspeakable innocent energy that makes “Underwater Cinematographer” a perfect debut record. I’ve learned from reading so many unfavorable reviews that many a writer finds more flaws than favorable moments but I refuse to over intellectualize these songs.

If a band instantaneously coaxes a toothy grin from my face and brings me the kind of childhood bliss I felt diving into a pool on the first hot day of summer then why should ignore my gut reaction just because it falls short of some preconceived notion of what a great record is suppose to sound like or say.

This isn’t a record to be taken so seriously and it is a shame so many reviews have missed the very thing I love most about this record. The indie rock community needs to lighten up a little and rest on a cute plastic animal shaped floaty thing while they tread water in the deep end of the review pool.

PFM offers one of less offensive reviews of this record and out of fairness this is just about a difference in opinion. I’m pulling for this record so at the end of my rope comes a rating closer to an 8.

*I should be careful when I make the BTS comparison because where Doug Martch prays in the direction of Neil Young and the art of whammy bars and 20 minute solos; MSR’s 6 members tackle the rock via guitars, hand claps, group sing-alongs and electronics.