Most Serene Republic – Population

Arts & Crafts

With the addition of a yelpy vocalist and an exclamation point or two Most Serene Republic would be a pretty accurate distillation of everything people have found annoying about indie rock in the last few years. They’re a large Canadian band with several multi-instrumentalists who employ cutesy male-female vocal interplay slap unnecessary layers onto their songs and display an implicit arrogance that the music they’re making is somehow more important than anyone else’s.

The band’s latest album Population probably isn’t going to change the minds of those who view them as indie rock’s whipping boys and girls. Though the album is a positive step away from their 2005 debut Underwater Cinematographer Most Serene Republic still sound like they’re trying to emulate label-mates Stars and Broken Social Scene rather than forging their own identity. Songs like “Compliance” and “Who so Looking Back” wield a tunefulness and coherence that was absent from the band’s earlier material but they’re mired by huge walls of keyboards guitars and drums meant to trick listeners into thinking the songs contain substance.

Add some buried angry vocals a couple of transitory tracks that sound frighteningly similar to Kenny G elevator muzak and a whole bunch of songs that fail to realize that big doesn’t always equal good and Population reveals itself as a mess trying to sound like accidental genius. It’s far more organized than the garbage-all-over-the-floor esthetic of Underwater Cinematographer but it’s still a wreck.