The New Pornographers – [Album]

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Some records just sound like they're going to be huge from the first few measures of the first song on them. Whether it's because there's obviously a breathtaking amount of ambition thrown into the (the Eels' Blinking Lights and Other Revelations is like that, as is Trail Of Dead's Worlds Apart), just the right amount of bracing or authoritative sound or even something as simple as a great big riff or vocal rave-up (as was the case with Hendrix' Are You Experienced? Or Abba's ubiquitously entitled The Album), they just sound like the biggest thing ever. They seem to encapsulate everything the band is about and what they've been working toward for years and that it's finally done and out now is an achievement. In that, listeners are left to feel like they're witnessing something incredible.

Listening to the first few measures  of “Moves” on The New Pornographers' new album, Together, is just like that.

How's it done?

From the very first few seconds of “Moves,” The New Pornographers (back together after a two- year break that found members A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Kurt Dahle all working on other endeavors) explode back beyond their previous for into a whole other realm of both classic pop and indie rock songwriting and arrangement that feels timeless because it really is; through songs like “Moves” and “Crash Years,” the band incorporates strings (like Abba used to do) in a way that simultaneously bolsters the rhythm section and elevates the melodies to sit squarely at the forefront of listeners' attention at the same time. The effect is like a juggernaut that hits listeners and continues to stand tall – the monolithic sound does not recoil for effect.

That is a breathtaking result.

The band doesn't back off after having made its point either. Unlike The New Pornographers' previous albums, Together plays like a very focused and concentrated effort; Newman's sibilance and clipped phrasing punches through the lush instrumental mixes on songs like “Silver Jenny Dollar” while Neko Case hovers hard on the high end – presenting piercing jabs coupled with Newman's body-blows. Further, the difference between the band's previous albums and songs like Mass Romantic, Twin Cinema, “Use It” and “Letter from an Occupant” versus all of this new album lies in how these songs are approached. While previous albums found the band rocking on some campy motifs surprisingly hard and winning fans on that balance, Together rocks very hard without The New Pornographers' previous kitsch quotient.

All of that said and the single easiest way to summarize Together is to say that it is the sound of The New Pornographers, grown up. This time out, the band proves that they've mastered the sound they spent ten years honing and are confident enough in it that they can not only start manipulating it in exciting and unique ways, they can do so within a framework that will absolutely blow listeners away.



comes out on May 4, 2010 through Matador Records/Last Gang. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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