The New Pornographers - Together
When it comes to supergroups there really aren't any in Canada who can hold a candle to The New Pornographers. A.C. Newman, Dan Bejar et al are poised to release their fifth studio album Together on May 4th.
This time around the group takes a slight step back from their usually dose of delicious power pop. Strings, keyboards, and horns (provided by the Dap-Kings) take a far more prominent role. The result is a more intricate, at times orchestral sound. At times, such as on "Daughters of Sorrow", the feel borders on theatrical.
The quasi-title track, "Your Hands (Together)", is possibly the band's heaviest effort. The arrangements in the introduction and verses features a heavy guitar riff that seems to draw its inspiration from the cadence of "War Pigs".
Unfortunately, to get this sound what suffers is the hooks. There are still a handful of tracks, like "Silver Jenny Dollars" and "What Turns Up In the Dark", that boast big, catchy melodies. But the ratio is disappointing.
In yet another frustrating turn, Neko Case is absolutely spectacular in belting out songs like "Crash Years". I say frustrating because it's the Neko Case we get to hear on New Pornographers albums that I so desperately want to hear on her solo material. In comparison to these songs, her solo material comes across as listless and uninspired.
In addition to the usual cast of characters the band has recruited some indie rock friends to contribute in the form of Okkervil River's suddenly omnipresent Will Scheff, Annie Clark of St Vincent and Beirut's Zach Condon.
When push comes to shove, there is more positive than negative about Together. But despite adding some elements, the new record is far from the band's most essential work.
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