New Music Review: The New Pornographers – Together

The New Pornographers.  To the unknowing, there may be an instant thought of raunch, smut and/or eroticism upon first hearing this band’s peculiar name.  Disagree? Well, a Christian College in Michigan denied the band a gig simply because of their name.  Something tells me that Canadian-based group Holy F*ck aren’t going to be getting a gig there any time soon, either.  Call it a hunch.

All kidding aside, the New Pornographers’ most recent studio album, Together, has a lot of people buzzing, and not because of their name.   Their fifth studio album peaked at #18 on US charts, their highest charting to date.  With the almost all-too-easy knack for writing catchy, indie-pop tunes, co-lead singer Carl (A.C.) Newman has penned a solid album that will have most everyone who’s listening singing along after only a couple spins.  With help on vocals from Dan Bejar (Destroyer), Neko Case and Newman’s niece, Kathryn Calder, there is little vocal boredom on Together, with every song offering something new.

The opening track, Moves, kicks the album off to a fantastic start.  The New Pornographers seem to feel right at home with heavy strings pulsing through their tunes, and this one is no exception.  If the booming cello and staccato’d violins weren’t enough, the staccato’d vocals in the chorus, singing “Slow down, ladies” (forgive me if those lyrics are incorrect) add another element to the song, as if it needed any more.

Crash Years was not a favourite upon first listen, but it grew on me fast.  Great elements again with a heavily strummed acoustic guitar, cello, and Neko Case’s vocals ringing crisply and clean.  An easy one to whistle along to.  Listen to it and you’ll know what I mean.

The third track Your Hands (Together) was the first single on this album.  Definitely not the strongest song on the album,  and perhaps a little overplayed on the radio, but a solid track nonetheless.

Other standouts on the album are Sweet Talk Sweet Talk, My Shepherd and A Bite Out of My Bed. The latter carries a similar feel as Moves but incorporates a fantastically catchy horn section, courtesy of the Dap Kings.

Another interesting element in the musical potpourri that makes up the New Pornographers is co-lead singer Dan Bejar‘s tendency to sing as though he has an british accent, a la David Bowie.  Just have a listen to Silver Jenny Dollar, If You Can’t See My Mirrors or Daughters of Sorrow and you’ll know precisely what I’m referring to.  Maybe I’m missing something and he does indeed have an english accent, but as far as Wikipedia tells me, he hails from Vancouver so I’m assuming it’s put on.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

For the few things the New Pornographers don’t do well on this album, which are few and far between, they do many things well.  Diversity in music stylings, incorporation of many different instruments to keep each song unique and interesting, sharing of vocal duties and odd song titles to name a few, keep you humming, tapping your feet and wondering where they come up with these song titles.  If you have not heard much more from this indie band from Vancouver than a few tracks, do yourself a favour and have a listen to this album.  Especially if you like something with a slightly different flavour than your standard, meat-and-potatoes 4-piece rock outfit.  I wasn’t disappointed, and if you enjoy the musical elements I’ve described, you won’t be disappointed either.

Interesting yet very solid effort from this talented Canadian octet:  4 out of 5 stars!

 

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~ by whet_hopped on January 8, 2011.

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