The Only Porno(graphers) Your Parents May Approve Of.

It’s been (just over) a week since Vancouver-based band, The New Pornographers, have released their SIXTH full-length album. But how would YOU know that?! Have you HEARD of them?!!

Probably best known for this video, The New Pornographers have remained waaaaaay under the radar for nearly two decades. That noise is about to change after this release.

Track. By. Track.

Brill Bruisers
released 26 August 2014

1. Brill Bruisers – You know what we say about title tracks! Not a mistake in this instance. Not at all! This track dropped earlier in the summer and has been stuck in my head and plugging up satellite radio airwaves ever since. Luckily it’s not easy to tire of. It’s like… drinking rainbows. Just go with it.

2. Champions of Red Wine – Starts out like a Western movie on acid. I always love projects who make use of all available vocalists. It’s like having two bands in one! Considering this is more of an ensemble of musical genius, the concept is essentially the same, but I love the softness that our ladies, Neko Case and Kathryn Calder, bring to the forefront of this track. (You read that right… did you know solo act and indie darling, Neko Case, was in a band?!)

3. Fantasy Fools – Dance your pants off, y’all! Or go frolicking down a rolling hill while the sun hits your face and you enjoy your prescription high. I can’t decide which I can picture y’all doing yet. Or which I’d want to, for that matter. On second thought… keep your pants on and just dance.

4. War on the East Coast – Enjoying this harder sound. There’s like no relaxing on this album. I hope you’ve had your caffeine! I feel like this is a mix between hard Billy Idol and fun-loving Cyndi Lauper. Maybe some Nena thrown in there, with the allusion to war…

5. Backstairs – You know, don’t knock the voice mod. It would be awesome to have a robot actually be a participant in a band one day, don’t you think? I picture the ensemble with their instruments looking up at me from a circuit board. It feels like the melody is fighting to suppress the underlying techno sequences. Somehow it works for me.

6. Marching Orders –  Y’all remember The Byrds and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Listening to this just evokes feelings like it belongs in the archives of the music of the 70s. I read somewhere that this album was supposed to be a bit of a throwback to a different era. I’ve identified at least one.

7. Another Drug Deal of the Heart – Not my favorite, but it’s rather catchy. We’ll know each other by the humming of this we do out in public. Maven Minions: ASSEMBLE!

8. Born With a Sound (feat. Amber Webber) – I’ll be honest: I had to look up Amber Webber AND her projects, Black Mountain and Lightning Dust! WHAAAAA?! It’s rare, but it happens! I love her voice, and she complements this track quite nicely without overpowering it. A thoroughly enjoyable track with just enough spunk to keep the party going.

9. Wide Eyes – I think the biggest savior of this filler track is the presence of harmony, which is flawless in all its imperfection. Oftentimes I feel like their idea of (good) harmony and mine differ. It’s not a bad track, by any means, but easily missed if you’re not listening out for it.

10. Dancehall Domine – Pronounced domin-ay. Fave track. Because.

11. Spidyr – Probably the closest thing you’re gonna get to a “slow”-er-ish track, and it’s seriously not. Consider some wicked harmonica riffs, and this is folk-meets-Prince-meets-electro-meets-chaos. It’s brilliant.

12. Hi-Rise – I feel like this belongs in a video game immediately. Like, mystic quest time! Fire up The New Pornographers.

13. You Tell Me Where – My brain doesn’t want to handle this track. tl;dr. A decent, old-school exit track. Not done too often anymore, and I do have to give them props on making use of this tactic. This is a group of folks who know what’s up. 20+ years ago. But hey! Old is new again 😉

FINAL THOUGHTS: Honestly, Matador Records and producers/band members, A.C. Newman and John Collins (both of whom I have mad respect for), did this record a slight disservice in editing. I feel like tracks 6, 7, and 9 could have all been included as bonus tracks, but the fact that they’re worked into the main release leaves me a little sad. It’s only 44 minutes long, but it feels MUCH longer, and that time isn’t being used to tell a cohesive story, which I am a HUGE supporter of when it comes to full-length releases… whenever possible. Since this record is paying homage to times of yore, they should have paid more attention to the art of storytelling-by-album, as well. These are all seasoned veterans in the music biz, after all! For these reasons: ♦♦¾/5.

I WILL ADD: It is not easy for these busy artists to cultivate works between schedule conflicts and whatnot. IMO, TNP, it’s time to take this from side project to focus. The promise shown in a number of these tracks is worth dedicating time to, and I do believe that this is the album to help facilitate that.

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