THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS
LAST GANG RECORDS
The cover art for The New Pornographers’ fifth studio album Together depicts tiny figurine people leaping off a cliff, their arms outstretched towards the great unknown.
It’s a fitting image for the music, which also conveys a feeling of diving headfirst into something.
A stately sounding cello and guitar riff introduces the opening track, “Moves”, and a few seconds later the drums kick in with an assured wallop, followed by the familiar and irresistible combination of Neko Case and A.C. Newman harmonizing. Right from the start, you sense there’s no holding back — everyone’s going full tilt, with pianos plinking away in the background and soaring violins ratcheting up the grandeur.
On their previous album (2007’s Challengers), the eight-piece, indie rock supergroup took it down a notch and crafted quieter songs that took time to unfurl. But this time around, the music is much more immediate. “Your Hands (Together)” recaptures the exuberance of the band’s 2000 debut, Mass Romantic, with power pop guitars that jump out of the speakers, drums that punch you in the gut and hooks aplenty. The brightness and energy of tracks like “Crash Years” and “We End Up Together” make this disc an absolute treat to listen to.
Given their elder statesmen (and women!) status in the indie rock world, it also makes sense that The New Pornographers would invite some of the young guns of the scene to strut their stuff on the record. Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, contributes a guitar solo with a murky, underwater-y tone on “My Shepherd” that highlights her creativity. Zach Condon of Beirut, Will Sheff of Okkervil River and the Dap Kings’ horn section also make guest appearances.
If there’s anything to fault about this album, it’s that you probably won’t have a “wow, I didn’t see that coming” moment. It’s classic New Pornographers. And it’s a thrill to hear the band making big, gorgeous tunes that stay with you long after the album ends.