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The New Pornographers
The New Pornographers - Together
Review by Tony BonyataOn The New Pornographers' fifth studio effort, Together, the Canadian collective continue to effortlessly churn out the ridiculously catchy pop songs that've made them a household name... well, at least in those homes that inhabit lovers of melodic indie rock and modern day power- pop. But as pleasing as many of the tracks are, this album may, in fact, be the band's least satisfying effort to date (which, by the way, is still better than a good majority of new music from their contemporaries).
Led by founding member and creative fountainhead A.C. Newman, the tunes that fill out this album are rich in sunny melodies, strong production values and sugary harmonies, courtesy of the band's secret weapon, singer/songwriter Neko Case, who - along with Newman, also contributes lead vocals on some of the tracks.
Call it maturity if you will, however, but over the years The New Pornographers seem to have - for better or worse - toned down some of the power and youthful exuberance from their perfectly executed first two power-pop albums (2000's Mass Romantic and 2003's Electric Version). Songs such as "My Shepherd" and "Valkyrie In The Roller Disco" are pretty enough ballads, but lack the spontaneity and fun of the band's best work. When they do turn up the heat a bit, however, on tracks like the pounding "Your Hands (Together)" or "A Bite Out Of My Bed" the songs themselves just aren't as strong as they could be. Thankfully, though, the sturdier pop gems such as the opening track "Moves," "Up In The Dark" with its beautifully dizzying harmonies, and the album's strongest track "Crash Years," shows that there's still a lot of creative ideas bouncing between these eight talented musicians (not to mention cameo appearances from the likes of Beirut's Zach Condon, St. Vincent's Annie Clark, Okkervil River's Will Sheff and members of The Dap-Kings).
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